I spent the fall semester of the 2019-2020 school year on the Kenya Semester Program. As an environmental major, I had learned about the effect that deforestation was having in the Mount Kilimanjaro region to both the environment and the people. One of the biggest issues that deforestation causes is a reduction of participation on the mountain, which reduces the snowfall and therefore reduced Glacier. The Glacier run off provides a steady source of water to the surrounding areas, but as they are being reduced so is the water that is coming off the mountain. While in Kenyan I got to talk and live with the people being affected by this. I got to learn from a pastoralist community that is being forced to change their lifestyle to agriculture because there is just not enough water for their livestock to survive.
One of my life long dreams had been to summit Mount Kilimanjaro and since I was so close to it while in Kenya I knew I had to take the opportunity. I also knew that I wanted to make my climb more than just walking for eight days. I decided to use my climb as a platform to raise money for The Kilimanjaro Project which is an organization dedicated to planting trees throughout the regions of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I am so thankful to the Romeo-Gilbert Family who provided me with the opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It was an adventure of a life time. Spending 8 eight days on the mountain with local guides I was able to both learn from them and see for myself how much deforestation is effecting the mountain. There are just 21 acres left of glacier on the mountain and it is expected to only decrease as deforestation continues. It is so important that we protect the ecosystems of places like Mount Kilimanjaro for both the environment and for all the people who rely on it to maintain their life. Thanks to the generous support of friends and family we were able to raise $1,455 for The Kilimanjaro Project, which will allow for the planting about 1,455 trees. The planting of these trees was gifted in the name of St. Lawrence University and I am happy to say St. Lawrence University will soon have its very own forest in Tanzania. The director of the organization reached out to me after the donation was made, letting me know that the trees are scheduled to be planted in April during the raining season and she will send the geo coordinates of SLU’s forest once it is finished. I had the opportunity to dance in the rain with local children during my adventures and I hope that by raising awareness through my climb and the planting of these trees, kids in the area will be able to dance in the rain for years to come.