In This Issue
Students to Scale New Heights for AIDS Clinic
Mount Kilimanjaro climb to raise $15,000 for Masai Project
BY ANDREW VOWLES
|U of G students, from left, Normand Doan, Lauren Wallace, Richard Gilbert and Taryn Guldborg will head to Tanzania Dec. 14 and expect to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro by Dec. 25. They aim to draw attention to the AIDS epidemic and raise money to help fight it. Photo by Martin Schwalbe|
They could have spent their December holiday at home. Instead, four U of G students will climb Africa's highest mountain this month, capping a fundraising project to fight HIV/AIDS in Lesotho.
The team hopes to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, almost 6,000 metres above sea level, by Dec. 25. The fundraising goal for their “Climb to End AIDS” is $15,000.
The money will go to the Masai Project for an AIDS clinic in Lesotho. Almost one-third of the people in the impoverished southern African nation have HIV/AIDS, among the world's highest rates.
Besides funding the clinic, team leader Lauren Wallace hopes to draw attention to the AIDS epidemic, which continues to ravage many of the world's poorer countries.
An estimated 33 million people worldwide have the disease, according to the joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS and the World Health Organization.
Two out of three people with HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa, and more than 11 million children have been orphaned on that continent because of the disease.
“About 8,000 people die of AIDS every day,” says Wallace, a second-year bachelor of arts and sciences student and a President's Scholar. “We care so much that we're willing to climb a mountain for it.”
The other U of G team members — all from the BAS program — are third-year students Normand Doan and Taryn Guldborg and fourth-year student Richard Gilbert. Also on the team is Wallace's aunt, Cathy Wallace, a police officer in Lauren's hometown of Hamilton.
They'll head to Tanzania Dec. 14 and begin their ascent two days later. It will take eight days to hike the western Lemosho route, a longer and lesser used way than other routes. They expect to reach the top by Dec. 25. After a two-day descent, they'll fly back home by Dec. 28.
Back at Guelph, they'll receive a full course credit for their fundraising, training and research and a planned presentation.
“Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is going to be challenging, but I'm hoping I'll come out of it a stronger person — body and mind,” says Guldborg, who has supported the Masai Project since high school. “I know I'll definitely be missing my family during Christmas, but I'm hoping the view from the summit on Christmas Day will be worth the separation.”
Guldborg took part in U of G's Project Serve volunteer trip to Mississippi for relief work after hurricane Katrina. Doan volunteers at a Muskoka summer camp for children with cancer. Gilbert has visited Iceland and has worked at Toronto hospitals, making instructional surgical videos.
“These students are a wonderful example of the caring nature of our University community,” says Prof. Jacqueline Murray, History, who is Wallace's faculty mentor. “Their project is an incredible example of learner-centredness and of how education at Guelph moves out of the classroom to encompass the world.”
This will be the first such expedition for the team members. Mount Kilimanjaro is billed as a “non-technical” climb accessible to hikers in good shape.
The Guelph team members have trained for the trek. Their main concern is altitude sickness, a common affliction on the mountain. Taking the longer route should help allay symptoms, says Wallace, who's been seeing a trainer regularly and doing cardio and weight training five or six days a week.
“Part of the physical training is the mental preparation,” she says.
In summer 2007, she spent a month in Kenya helping to build schools for Free the Children. “After I went to Kenya, my view of the world broadened a lot.”
Looking for another project on her return, Wallace broached her fundraising idea to classmates.
Over the past year, the climbing team has held fundraising events, including a silent auction and dinner. They also sold “bracelets of hope” as part of U of G's Masai Project to raise money for the Lesotho clinic.