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Hike up Mt. Kili to help kids, moms in Tanzania

A trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro could help Lawrence and Leesha Mafuru of Boma Africa to help the kids and moms of Mto wa Mbu in Arusha

What goes up a mountain and comes down a hero? One local couple is hoping that the answer is you. They’re even willing to take you all the way to Uhuru Peak and back.

Lawrence Mafuru is the Tanzanian-born founder and director of Boma Africa, a company that conducts what it calls “outreach tourism.” It specializes in mountain climbing, safaris, cultural excursions offering such adventures for a charitable cause.

He’s a well-seasoned tour guide who has done innumerable treks up and down Mt. Kilimanjaro. At nearly 5,000m, it’s the highest mountain in Africa.

It’s also one of the most accessible.

“Anyone can do it. You don’t have to be experienced,” he advised, “Just fit.”

This will not be the first tour for the company. Together with his wife, Leesha, they already took another group of 15 people to the summit back in 2013.

“They all made it to the summit. It took seven days. That’s a long climb! Slowly but sure,” he laughed.

And they’re going to do it again. They are now accepting applications to join them on Boma’s next trip set to take place from Jan. 15 to 25, 2016. Each participant is required to contribute $500 either by donation or through personal fundraising. The cost of each person’s flight is their own arrangement.

“We’re hoping to have at least 10 climbers but we can take as many that want to come,” Leesha added.

All of its profits go back to the community that it serves. That community is called Mto wa Mbu in Arusha, Tanzania, a place whose name means mosquito river. There, the organization is helping to build and support the Boma Community School. They need $6,000 to cover the cost of running the facility annually.

At the same time, they are working on another project called Boma la Mama, a place whose goal is to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality rates by providing Tanzanian women “safe and dignified maternity care” in a clinic and low risk birth centre. The area has a very high population with a very high poverty rate, both of which combine to mean a serious obstacle to mothers who want to have healthy pregnancies, deliveries and babies.

The centre will be partnered with the Boma la Mama Midwifery Education Program for Tanzanians. The Mafurus are hoping to raise $500,000 to build up the centre on 10 acres of land. The hope is to install 16 pre- and post-natal beds along with four delivery rooms.

Boma has already been in operation for five years. Even though a registration fee of $500 doesn’t seem like it would do much, Lawrence said that the money goes a very long way.

“It’s very successful, especially for the impact on the community. It’s not a very big company but successful on the other hand.”

The deadline to register for the trek is mid-December, one month before the walk, which still gives the public plenty of time to train and fundraise.

It’s also good to plan these things out at least a few months in advance, Lawrence advised, as the climb is usually beyond many people’s natural abilities. Acclimatization to the altitude and endurance for the long walk on the incline are still serious factors to be considered.

To learn more, call 780-904-5895 or visit www.bomaafrica.com.

At the same time, there is a selection of Tanzanian art that is available for sale at the Vinyl Rock Café. Proceeds are going toward Boma and its initiatives.

There are many reasons that drive people to seek the solace and sanctuary of the St. Albert United Church. At its annual Harvest Dinner event tonight, one of those reasons might be something that you can drive away from the church.

A 2015 Honda Civic is one of the more than 100 items on the slate for the silent and live auctions during the annual fundraiser. The four-door sedan was provided by St. Albert Honda, newly established on the north side of the city. There will be a reserve bid for the item and it’s already garnered a lot of interest.

Tickets are $45 and there are still some left. Attendance is expected to hit 160. The event starts at 5 p.m. tonight and includes a catered meal.

All of the proceeds will go to support church operations.

The St. Albert United Church is located at 20 Green Grove Dr. Call 780-458-8355 or visit www.stalbertunited.ca for more information.

Scott Hayes: Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.