Friday, December 31, 2010

This is it!!

At base camp (4600 m). We leave at 11:30 pm for Uhuru Peak.. just in time for the sunrise on New Years Day!!

Today's hike was short but difficult.. Ready for a nap to refuel the energy. Keep Praying!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Barranco Wall... Check!

Taking on Barranco Wall (4200 m) is always a 'fun' experience. It wasn't easy, but we all made it.

Not much viewing today as we were hiking through fog and mist.
The view of the peak is amazing from here (Karanga Camp 3930m).

Off to base camp tomorrow - Barrafu!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Scenic day..

We are all safe and sound at Barranco camp (3950 m). All healthy (knock on wood!).
Today was an uphill trek to Lava Tower (4600 m). Lava tower's altitude is the same as base camp (Barafu Camp) we then decent down to the camp site. This exercise is referred to as 'Trek high sleep low' to help us acclimatize.

Today we saw loads of waterfalls and the senecio - Google it, they are really cool looking plants. It’s cold here and it hailed for a bit.

Tomorrow we take on the mighty beast - the Barranco Wall - Google’s crazy..

For now its bed time - Keep Praying! :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No rain today...Must be your prayers!!

All in good spirits at Shira Camp (3800 meters).
Great news - No rain today. It was really steep for most of the hike.
Left the rainforest...into mooreland (short shrubs). Its freezing here but the starts are beautiful.You can't believe how many you can see.
Off to Barranco Camp (3950 m) tomorrow via Lava Tower (4600m)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Soaked is an understatement!!!

Blackberry won't work so we will text in our daily updates.
Day went fine - got to Machame Camp (3000 m. Summit at 5840m). Hike was challenging and got drenched in the rainforest.
Now sipping chai as its cold. Food was great. Off to bed soon. Shira Camp tomorrow.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Kili Time!!

This morning the entire team left the Darul Muslimeen Orphanage. Part of the team left quite early in the morning to catch the bus to Moshi for the Kilimanjaro climb but some of the kids still managed to wish us off. The rest of the team stayed back a few hours to share one last treat with the kids- soda! It was nice to share some special items the boys would not typically get. The bus ride to Moshi was hot and dusty but we managed to catch a few zzzz’s as the bus whizzed along the narrow highway from Chilenze to Moshi. It took about 7 hours total. Once we arrived in Moshi our guide for the upcoming climb, Frederick, greeted us at the bus station. We then had a debriefing to ensure we have all the needed items for the 7 day hike we are embarking on in the morning. There is a bit of underlying anxiety as we come closer to leaving in the morning to start the hike. Frederick was very through in his meeting with us. He wants to ensure we all make it to the top if possible. He noted this will be his 196th summit! We will have a team of 8 people to get us to the top. The team consist of the mountain guide (Frederick), an assistant guide, a cook, and a small group of porters. We hope to rely on their experience to safely arrive to the peak on Jan 1. It will be exhilarating to be on Africa’s highest spot at the start of the New Year!

Will blog soon – for now, its Kili time! (Please keep us in your thoughts)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

After all they are kids!!

This morning the orphans were up early to wash their laundry. They started this at about 6 AM.  Not too long later there were clothes strewn over the fence and atop the bushes everywhere you looked. Once their chores were complete we sat down to only chai for breakfast. Soon after, we were headed out the orphanage gates to our Mt. Uluguru adventure. The town of Morogoro sits at the base of Mt. Uluguru. The orphans led the way as they have trekked this path many times. One of the orphans hiked in what looked like men’s dress shoes from the 70’s. The worst part though, was that the shoe strings weren’t original and seemed to be 3 feet long. He had to keep tying them and tucking them into this shoe to be able to walk. Maybe that wasn’t the worst part. We can’t imagine hiking in men’s dress shoes. Some commented they do this for their exercise. Isa, one of the orphans, had already been up the mountain this morning! The kids were giddy as we headed up the mountain. We stopped mid-way as some of us needed a rest. At this point we decided to take an alternate route that took us to beautiful waterfalls instead of heading to the summit. 

Once we arrived at the waterfalls area the kids began climbing on the rocks and swimming in a pool of water that the falls created. Tons of splashing and laughter could be heard. We even saw some cannon ball splashes! They had a blast! Children are so creative, some of the boys created a slide on the rocks just by splashing water to make the smooth rocks slick. After a couple hours of playing we started to head back down the mountain. On way home the boys were trying to knock mango’s from the trees as they don’t get fruit in their regular meal regimen. 
Upon returning to the orphanage, the Peak 4 Poverty team spotted an ice cream man and decided to treat the kids. The ice cream man came on his bicycle with a big bag of cones tied to the front of the handlebars and a pail of ice cream strapped to the back of the bike. We didn’t even see any ice and really have no idea how he keeps it cold. The ice cream man makes the cones look like roses as he scoops the ice cream from the bucket with a regular table teaspoon. Lunch follows just a bit after all this excitement and once again we have ugali and red beans (maharage). Lunch is now over and the team is taking a needed nap as we are too tired to keep up with the orphans during a game of soccer later on. They are all waiting anxiously outside to start the match!

Football! The boys are all off to play soccer at a dirt field that is a short walk from the orphanage. On the way there we notice that one of the boys is wearing flip flops that have broken straps, on BOTH feet.  Seriously, flip flops are so inexpensive and this little guy is shuffling along with two broken shoes. But most of the boys have no shoes at all so perhaps this was actually fortunate for him. The goal posts are sticks stuck in the ground. There are no boundary lines and the boys play the ball no matter where it goes. It was a good game and everyone seemed to be having fun despite these challenges. Soccer means so much to these unfortunate kids. This is one thing that makes them forget about their challenges in life – their lack of parents, basic living condition, skipping childhood. Some of them even have nick names after soccer stars such as Messi and Ashley Cole.

Later in the evening we spent some time saying good bye to the orphans as today is our last day with them. They were all tuckered out from the day’s events. Some of them were falling asleep while we made some closing comments. After the meeting we spent some time with a few of the older boys showing them pictures from our time here.  Isa (one of the orphans) wants to be an astronomer and showed us some stars and planets he could locate in the sky.

We are heading off to bed as in the morning we take a bus to Moshi which is the foothills of Kilimanjaro. Anxiety is setting in as the climb nears! We do want to note that due to technical difficulties with Verizon that we are not positive we will be able to blog during the climb. Apparently all those Verizon people you see in the commercials (Can you hear me now?) have left us high and dry! LOL Stay tuned for further post. We hope to stay connected to you all. We will blog post climb if you don’t hear from us this week. Keep us in your thoughts as we tackle this dangerous and challenging wonder of nature!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Magnificent View of Uluguru

 The Darul Muslameen orphanage sits at the bottom of Mt. Uluguru. The weather is hot but not as hot as Dar Es Salaam. It’s a terrific change from the humidity we just left! The town of Morogoro is quite beautiful. Large trees that must be at least a 100 years old line the streets creating a green foliage tunnel as you drive through the main city route. This orphanage is much nicer than the last one we visited. They have a larger compound as well as a mill and a bakery. Don’t get too excited though as the bakery is really a small room with an oven, that is heated with burning wood the kids chopped with a very dull ax.

Our breakfast this morning was fruit and bread that they boys had prepared last night. Oh, and tea! The tea in Africa is so delicious!  It was great homemade bread too, my grandmother would be proud of their bread making skills! They have located us in the guest quarters and we are very impressed with the accommodations. Today we are working with the kids in a rotating classroom schedule and getting to know their personalities.  We worked with the kids on career planning, English speaking skills, Art, Kiswahili.  For lunch we ate rice with goat meat (pilau) and sliced veggies (kachumbari). The goat was freshly slaughtered by the orphans themselves.  I’m surely not joking, we watched them skin the hair from the goat legs this morning. Another popular food during meals is ugali and mahrage (beans). Ugali is a white substance made from a flour base.  It is often substituted for rice as it is less costly. We like the taste as much as the rice. Today it rained quite a bit and we lost electricity a few different times. A bit later in the day after some more class time we ate dinner.

  When the boys are done eating they are required to wash their dishes. The children are required to do many things most children their age would not do for themselves. One boy- Kondo (picture above), who is 5 years old, takes on quite a lot of responsibility for his age. He dresses himself, gets his own plate of food at meal time, and washes his dishes with no help from the others. These responsibilities seem to take away so much from their childhood innocence. They must grow up so fast. They also seem to be lacking in emotional connection. During prayers a little boy put his arm around one of the volunteers to gain attachment as would do with a parent figure. Tomorrow we plan to climb  Mount Uluguru  in the morning and a soccer match in the afternoon. Could be a muddy mess with all the rain we received today. More on that tomorrow..

My living room is the same size as their house.

When we arrived at Mamma Teddy’s (Orphanage in Chanika) today we were pretty taken aback. The orphans are living in a small building that is comprised of 4 rooms. It is not bigger in total than most American’s living rooms. The kid’s sleeping rooms have bunk beds in them. We think they must have built the beds right in the room because there is barely space to pass between the door to the interior of the room. Outside of the living quarters there is an outhouse and two small buildings.  The term “building” is used loosely. Inside one of the buildings, some of the girls were cooking large pots of rice and beans. This would be their meal later in the afternoon. The kids only receive one meal a day at this orphanage. Despite how lacking this set-up appears, it is to my understanding that they have just moved to this better location.  The upside to this new location is that it provides land in which the orphans are able to farm. They can harvest the food for both a food supply as well as crops to sell locally which will bring in money for other needed items such as tuition fees for the children.  Two of the girls took me on a tour of their farm. They grow all sorts of things like bananas, pineapples, sweet potatoes and mangos. The main issue with production on the land is the lack of water supply. There were several holes in the ground that had once held water but are now dried up. Even the traditional well located on the farm is without water. Later in the day we saw a girl carrying water in 10 gallon bucket on her head. She had fetched it from somewhere and brought it all the way back on her head as they do not have access to running water.  Even with these challenges the kids are in good spirits and were very excited to see us. At the end of the day the children were kind enough to walk us all the way to the bus stop to say goodbye!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The thought of Pizza can do wonders...

First of all our apologies for not getting this blog post up sooner - a lot of us were walking slowing this week with all the muscle pains and blisters. Overall, thought the trip was amazing and we had a great team!

Day 3 - We got up early to some delicious pancakes make by Scott and Neal of Barrcamp (10,200 ft). After a quick photo shoot by Riz Photography (including the awesome one on the top) we headed toward the Peak (14,115 feet) at around 8am.  The hike was fairly scenic and the we hiked as a group which was loads of fun. The group cracked jokes about everything and anything - I guess when you are high up in altitude everything seems funny :) We also had a few people singing for the group - I would nominate them for American Idol in a heartbeat.The hike was easier than the previous day apart from the last mile where we had to hike over small boulders. After we passed the tree line, for a good hour and half, we were going back and forth on the never-ending switch backs. However, everyone kept going - it must have been the idea of getting some yummy pizza and ice chilled pop at the summit. Altitude didn't affect the group much - a few of us started getting a slight headache but apart from that nothing major. We were at the peak at around 1 pm.

The top was packed with people, most of them taking the COGS railways from Manitou Springs. After taking a few photos - it was food time!!. Definetly junk food was the choice after burning all those calories getting to the Peak - pizza, fries, hamburgers and pop - can't get any better.

At around 3.30 pm we headed back to camp. The way down was challenging too - as most of us were tired and the altitude was getting to us. Although I have to mention, there were some in the group who must have got some crazy energy from the food because they decided to sprint down to camp. I am sure  Usain Bolt would have been  proud  of them- well at least we were. The group arrived at camp around 6 p.m. The evening it was the same routine - spaghetti and marinara sauce for dinner. After that, half of the group went to the sleep while the other half played UNO for a few hours. There was a lot of cheating going on - I am sure their mama's would not be proud of them :)

Day 4 - We got up in the morning, ate breakfast and packed up. We left Barrcamp around 8 am for the trail head at Manitou Spring. Like the rest of the days, it was nice and warm with 70 degree temperatures and a cool breeze which made it perfect for hiking. The way down wasn't too bad - we appreciated how difficult the way up was. We got to the trail head around 11 am. Packed our cars - took some last minute photos and headed back to Des Moines via Denver. Apart from the drivers and a few co-drivers, mostly everyone was fast asleep on their way home. The group arrived in Des Moines between midnight and 2 am.

This is what a few had to say about the trip:


Heather Kauffman - "The team of 12 climbers were a barrel full of laughs & everyone was in it for the team to reach the top.. real comradery! The event went off without a hitch & really showed the dedication Peak4Poverty has for helping the children. I would highly recommend signing up for the next one!!"

Leila Datoo - "I have done many hikes with different groups - but this by far top it all. The group was amazing, the hike was challenging and the organization was perfect. I can't wait for the next one. Thumbs up to Peak 4 Poverty!"

Finally we would like to thank Riz Photography for an amazing job. Check the photos here it's worth your 5 minutes!!

We are already getting ready to plan the next 14er trip. It will be in Spring - still deciding which peak. Any preference - let us know?

Also - Peak 4 Poverty will be heading to Tanzania this December to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and then spend a few days at one of our affiliated orphanages. If you are interested, please shoot us an email at

It's over and out for now! We will be blogging soon.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pikes Peak 2010 - Check!

We wanted to quickly update you on the trip. We made it to Pikes Peak!! We are currently on route to Des Moines through Denver. Sorry we couldn't blog yesterday as the ipad ran out of battery. Tomorrow we will blog about yesterday and today's event.

It has been an amazing event - quite challenging but a lot of fun. Stay tuned for photos and videos of the event courtesy of Riz Photography. :)

We should be in Des Moines by 2 a.m.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pikes Peak Day 2 has been perfect

Day 2 has been perfect. 

All twelve of us made it to Barr camp considering a third of the group had never hiked before!!! The 6.5 mile hike today was no stroll in the park - I guess it's Pikes Peak, what were we thinking? There were some serious elevation especially the last 0.5 miles. 

After picking the rest of the team from Denver, CO, we arrived at the trailhead at Manitou Springs at 11.30 a.m.The weather was perfect with clear skies and temperatures in the 70s - most of us hiked with t-shirts. The hike was fun but very challenging. The steepness of the mountain especially the last 0.5 miles knocked the wind out of every one. Perfect for the spaghetti and marinara sauce exotic dinner. The agenda of the night was too dehydrated over selves in preparation to summit Pikes Peak tomorrow!

Tomorrow we leave at 7 a.m for the summit. We hope to be at the top around noon for some donuts and lunch :) it's going to be a tough climb tomorrow especially after 1200 ft when the altitude starts kicking in.

Riz Photography did an amazing job with the photos. We will upload them soon. '"It is awesome to be part of this great cause. The shoot today was fabulous and tomorrow will be better" said Riz Manji, President of Riz Photography.

Alright folks, I am either going to join the half of the group who are snoozing away or the other half who are playing UNO in the common area.

More tomorrow - stay tuned on us conquering Pikes Peak!      


Pikes Peak 2010 - it has began!!

Pikes Peak 2010 - it has began!

So yet again we are doing another mountain climb and this times it's PIkes Peak in Colorado. Pikes Peak is the most visited mountain in North America - second in the world to Mt Fuji in Japan. At 14,000+ feet, Pikes Peak is not only challenging but also dangerous.

Twelve climbers (two had to back out at the last minute due to unavoidable circumstances but will be with us in spirit :) ) and Riz Photography have embarked on this trip to conquer the mountain. We start the ascend  in 10 or so hours. The group's goal is to raise awareness of the plight of AIDs orphans in Africa and help raise $1500 so 7 orphans can be educated next year. Thanks to all our gracious donors we have raised approximately $1200 so far. We are hopefully we will reached our goal by the time we return to our homes on Sunday. If you would like to donate go to

As I am writing this, 10 of us are driving to Denver, CO to meet the other 2 climber (hope they are getting some rest because the people in this car aren't - everyone is excited and the music is blasting the sound system). Just to give you a reference point it's 11.53 pm and we are passing mile marker 83 on I-80. We should be in Denver around 8 a.m and at the trailhead in Manitou Spring around 10 a.m. The plan tomorrow, or rather today as it just struck midnight, is to hike 6 miles to Barr campsite where we will have  dinner and rest. Plan to be at Barr camp at around 4 p.m. It should be interesting with no heat, showers, drinking water and a few sleeping outside in lean-to's at the campsite. Hey it part of the fun - and we packed a soccer ball so they will some Messi action at Barr. :)

The timing of this trip has been perfect with the United Nation Millennium Development Goal (MDG)summit taking place this week and global leaders dedicating more funds to fight poverty. We will have a blog post next week outlining how our mission aligns with MDG. We are honored to be with great organizations such as the (red), One, and Gates foundation in the fight of poverty and in particular supporting those who are affect or infected by the AIDs epidemic.

As you might know, Sept 23rd was declared the social good day by (red) and Mashable. We attended a preclimb event organized by One ( to discuss how social media can be used to help promote causes. Great event and thanks to all the supporter and well wishers. To illustrate how we use social media, I am blogging sitting in a car (no i am not driving lol) , using the iPad and the Verizon mifi in the middle of I 80 with corn fields all over.

I better join in the fun with the group. We will blog more tomorrow - hopefully all warm at Barr camp. Stay tune for more from us including pictures - will post pictures of our new Peak 4 Poverty t-shirt~ they are sick!!! :)

Adios amigos.              

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Orphanage visit update

I am back in Iowa “adjusting” to the cold. It’s been nearly a 100 degree temperature change from Dar-es-Salaam to Des Moines – can’t wait for spring :)

We have concluded our initial donations to the orphanages!! With the help of the donors – Peak 4 Poverty raised just shy of $5,000. The money was distributed among 6 orphanages and financed tuition fees and school supplies for more than 23 children ranging from elementary school to college. Please accept our deepest gratitude on behalf of these children and the orphanages – THANK YOU!

I would also like to thank a key member of our team, Marziya Kaka – who worked day and night to ensure all the logistics were in place for the donations which includes visiting the orphanages, fund transfer, getting receipts, bank deposits for the children’s tuition fees and thank you letters. She still is in Tanzania trying to wrap things up before flying back to Denver for college.

The followings are the bios of the orphanages:

Diana Women Empowerment Foundation:

Founded in 2005 this organization based in Dar es Salaam and Tanga takes care of 17 orphans – the youngest being 3 and the oldest 15 years old. Their objective is to provide the children with all the necessary humanity requirements such as food, water, clothes, medical care, and education.

Dar ul Muslimeen Orphanage:

Dar ul Muslimeen Orphanage is an NGO which was established in 1995, in Morogoro, Tanzania. The orphanage started with 4 orphaned boys and is currently running with 30 orphans aged 4 years and above. The orphanage was founded by a husband and wife – Mr. and Mrs. Ismail. The children look up to Mr. and Mrs. Ismail as their foster parents and each child is given an opporunity to talk to them about their concerns to them in private. If a child expresses particular wants and wishes that are reasonable, then whenever possible, they are fulfilled or kept in mind until the financial situation allows for it. [ Their personal wishes are usually very unassuming and humble. It may include, for example, a request for new trainers, a soccer ball to replace a burst one, or a pet.]Several staff members (matron, teacher, cook and cleaner) live with the children at the orphanage and act as guardians whilst spend quality time with them.

The Anglican Tanga Deanery HIV/AIDS control project:

Tanga Deanery HIV/AIDS control project operates under The Anglican Church of Tanzania Diocese of Tanga. The project deals with different activities such as educating the community by using peer educators, partnership with African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), income generating for widows, and education support for orphans. To date, the project is supporting 100 orphans in elementary schools in the Tanga region.

Soure Collegina Santa Familia (Collegine Sisters of the holy family):

This orphanage is dedicated towards the services of aids orphans and is run by 5 nuns and a helper. Currently there are 24 (11 boys and 13 girls) orphans under their care; the youngest is nearly two years old while the oldest is 18. The orphanages needs are mainly medical funds, food, clothing and building material for explansion of their services

SCSF is headquartered in Italy and is located in 6 other countries including Tanzania.

Ansaar Muslim Youth Center:

Started in 1997 with 7 orphans - this orphanage now cares for 80 children (25 girls and 55 boys). The youngest is 5 year old while the oldest is 23. The orphanages needs include book and school supplies, tuition fees, school uniforms and food.

Keko Orphanage:

This was least structured orphanage but one needing the most financial support. The orphanage started in 1994 and is run by Mama Tedi. In 1994 – Mama Tedi lost 2 siblings to AIDS/HIV leaving behind 3 children. Tedi decided to look after these kids. A few years later – Tedi’s close friends’ passes away due to the same disease as well and left behind their kids. Tedi then decided to build an orphanage to house all these kids. She now has 30 orphans ranging from 5 to 18 years of age. The financial situation of the orphanage is very weak – these children just eat once a day and sleep on the floor.