Ottawa, October 18, 2018 — After successfully scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro this summer, CODE’s 2018 Summit for Literacy climbers took some time recently to reflect on their adventure, and on why supporting children’s education in Africa matters to us all.
Between July 3 and 12, 2018, a team of 16 CODE supporters made the difficult nine-day trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro National Park in support of CODE’s 2018 Summit for Literacy campaign. Launched in 2006, the goal of the Summit for Literacy initiative is to raise much needed funds for CODE’s education and literacy programs around the world. CODE supporters have now successfully climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro four times, raising over two million dollars in funding for children’s education in Africa.
So far, this year’s climbers have raised over $179,000 from 745 generous supporters, with the hope of exceeding their ultimate goal of $180,000 by November. These funds will go to support CODE’s education and literacy programs in African countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Ethiopia and Mozambique. CODE works with local partners in each of these countries, to provide training to educators, to support the publication and distribution high quality, locally produced books for children and youth, and to build the capacity of local schools, libraries, and communities in order to ensure that children and youth in need have access to the quality education they deserve.
Chris Bredt is the Toronto-area lawyer, Director of the CODE Foundation, and former Director of the CODE Board of Directors, who organizes CODE’s Summit for Literacy. This summer he made his fourth trip leading climbers up Mt. Kilimanjaro for CODE. For Chris, what happens during the climb is a reflection of the generosity and humanity that makes charitable work like CODE’s possible. “One of the things that happens on the mountain is that everyone pulls together. People have to have resilience to reach the summit, surmounting personal obstacles to achieve a goal, together.” Chris said that conditions this year were even tougher than usual, but that the journey brought everyone together: “This year it was colder and icier; people felt ill. But if someone needed help everyone chipped in to encourage, help, support…sharing what you had to support others.”
This year’s campaign also saw our youngest ever Summit for Literacy climber make the journey. David Grace is a 13 year-old, grade-nine student from Toronto who made the trip together with his proud parents, Elizabeth Grace and Susan Vella. Like his fellow climbers, David also recognized the important role that Canadians can and should play when it comes to improving the quality of education in a country like Kenya, which climbers had the chance to visit during their trip. “I’m a young person,” said David, “and knowing that other young people don’t have opportunities to be literate, to have doors opened to them to learn…this made the issue feel personal to me.” By participating in something like CODE’s Summit for Literacy, he added, “you feel like you are doing your part…to help other people access something that you have; that you have to share.”
Even as they prepared for the difficult journey up Mt. Kilimanjaro, several of the climbers, including Chris, David, and his family, had the chance to visit two schools in Kenya’s remote Kajiado county – a rural part of the country that is home to communities of Masaai people. There Ruth Odondi, the Executive Director of CODE’s local partner, the National Book Development Council of Kenya, took climbers on a tour of two schools supported by CODE. For David and his family, the chance to speak with children who attended these schools “made [the climb] even more real.” According to Elizabeth, “Conditions [in the schools] were basic...But still students had pride in their schools. And in themselves. And in the fact that they were going to school and being educated.” As a young student himself, David also recognized this quality in the young people he met in Kenya. “I talked to kids who had to walk for an hour, over dangerous terrain, to get to school,” he said. Even still, the kids seemed excited, engaged, and really happy to be at school. “They saw that education was something special; that they have to work hard for,’ David said. “They saw it was a gift they were being given. They feel like if they can get a proper education they can impact their communities in a positive way.”
“There are great kids everywhere who have so much potential,” added Elizabeth. “If there is anything, even if it’s small, that we can do to help youth gain an education then I believe we should do so. Being able to climb the world’s highest freestanding mountain while also raising funds for children’s literacy made our family’s experience even more special and memorable.”
They saw that education was something special; that they have to work hard for…They saw it was a gift they were being given. They feel like if they can get a proper education they can impact their communities in a positive way.
The Summit for Literacy is one of CODE’s most important fundraising campaigns. In his congratulatory message to this year’s climbers, CODE’s Executive Director, Scott Walter, expressed how proud he was of the climbers’ achievements and how humbled he was by their generosity. “Not only have they triumphed over immense personal and physical challenges on the climb”, he said, “they are, as a direct result of their hard work, making a very real difference in the lives of African children and their families.”
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