Virginia Beach group prepares to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to promote African clean water initiatives

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s not every day you decide to climb one of the tallest peaks in the world, but one group from Virginia Beach says it’s up for the challenge, all while raising awareness for an important cause.

The trip to climb Mount Kilimanjaro will raise funds, through a group called Friends for African Development, to provide clean drinking water for communities in Tanzania.

Friends for African Development started after 30 people from Virginia Beach took a mission trip to Tanzania in 2006.

Board member Justin Caplan says the organization works to raise awareness and funds for water and education projects in the African country.

“A lot of the women are tasked with having to go miles to gather water,” he said. “This water is not clean, fresh river water. This is dirty mud water, and this is what they survive off of.”

Jack Ross decided to join the trip, which had been canceled three times because of the pandemic, as a way to refocus on what’s important in life and to do something meaningful after retiring.

“To think that people have to hike three to five miles a day and then carry it home is unfathomable in this country,” said Ross. “The cause is as fundamental and as purposeful as you can come up with.”

John Murray is an experienced climber, reaching the highest peak in just about every state in the U.S.

For Kilimanjaro, he says it’ll be a challenge through the changing climates up the mountain.

“The Swahili term is ‘pole pole,’ which means ‘slowly slowly,'” he said. “Some people might want to run up the mountain, but you can’t with that thin air. So they’re going to be telling us all day long ‘pole pole.'”

FAD has funded the construction of wells in the past, which they say serves roughly 2,000 to 3,000 people and can positively transform these African communities.

“What I hope people will understand is yes, it is a long, long way away geographically, but there’s a community that doesn’t have the basics of life,” said Caplan.

Their main goal is to raise more money to build more wells in Tanzania for the communities surrounding Kilimanjaro.

Learn more about the organization and see their efforts here.

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