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East London Mom Gears Up for Kilimanjaro to Keep Girls in School
Kilimanjaro’s highest summit goes by the name of Uhuru Peak. “Uhuru” is Swahili for Freedom, and in many ways, it represents the cause that the Thuli Madonsela Women’s Day Executive Climb is devoted to.
Sponsored by LexisNexis South Africa and scheduled to summit on Women’s Day, 9 August, the climb is the second of two summit groups in this year’s annual Trek4Mandela initiative, which aims to raise enough funds for the Caring4Girls menstrual hygiene programme with an ultimate goal of reaching two million disadvantaged girls by 2020.
There are many challenges that young South African women must overcome daily - and for many students in impoverished communities, basic necessities are often overlooked to put food on the table.
Professor Thuli Madonsela will be leading an expedition of influential women up Mount Kilimanjaro as they aim to raise enough funds to ensure that girl children will not miss a day of school and give much-needed accessibility to sanitary towels.
One of these brave women is Lee-Ann King, National Deployment Manager at LexisNexis South Africa. She was born in King William’s Town and attended school there, but currently lives in East London.
As a mother of three girls, this cause resonates deeply with King who believes that this initiative is an opportunity to restore dignity in young South African women.
“I understand the challenges girls face regarding self-esteem in general, let alone coping with the added struggle on a monthly basis of having no access to basic requirements,” she said.
King also sees this as an opportunity to set an example, showing young South African women that setting, working to, and achieving goals is an important life lesson that you can take into any environment – from the workplace to the very summit of Africa’s highest peak.
Fitness is something that has been an important part of her life for 12 years, and it’s through running that she finds a way to balance life as a business woman and mother.
“Taking up running changed my life, as a busy mom with a demanding job, there is very little ‘me’ time. We run early in the morning and it is wonderful to have that time doing what I love without encroaching on my family or work time,” she said.
In a world that is increasingly connected - the break from mobile phones, traffic lights and computer screens is a welcome one. It’s also a way to stay healthy and find inspiration.
“I simply loved the idea of this challenge from the minute I heard of it. I am inspired by exciting goals and could not think one more exciting than to take on Kilimanjaro and contribute to such a worthy cause,” she said.
For King it’s all about keeping it simple.
“One of my most valuable mantras for when the road gets tough is to remember ‘Strong mind, strong body’,” she said.
As the clock ticks down to their summit on the 9th of August King has been preparing in the gym and on the roads, while also taking the time to summit the peaks of Winterberg.
The almost 50-year-old says: “I have been blessed with a healthy body and I am fortunate to be able to exercise, I don’t take that lightly so I am excited to put that to good use.”
Over the next few weeks King’s own fundraising efforts will including piggybacking off Mandela Day activities, promoting the cause to her friends, colleagues and customers and sharing details of her special SMS fundraising line on social media.
Individuals can support King by sending an SMS with the name “LEEANNKING” to 42513 to make a pledge of R30.
The goal of Trek4Mandela and the Thuli Madonsela Women’s Day Executive Climb is to provide monthly menstrual support and effective hygiene and health education, to ensure the development and growth of thousands of young South African and African women.
Follow #trek4mandela @trek4mandela and LexisNexis South Africa on social media.