Virtual Kili Climb-a-thon

“Climb” 37 miles to the top of Kilimanjaro to fundraise for Neema International


Driving up the street to Uru Academy, Neema International’s school in Tanzania, you’ll see the snowy peaks of Kilimanjaro right up the road. Neema International is a non-profit focused on providing children in need in the Kilimanjaro region with education and care to set them up for a brighter future. In Swahili, Uhuru, which is the name of Mt. Kilimanjaro’s Peak, means “freedom.” For many children who live in impoverished regions, education is freedom, for it is their key to a successful and productive future. 

Government schools in Tanzania are extremely overpopulated and understaffed, with student to teacher ratio often being as high as 85 to 1. The combination of a poor learning environment with the schools’ lack of student and teacher resources has had a crippling effect on many government schooled children, often leaving them illiterate in their late teenage years. The lack of accessibility to quality schooling is especially apparent in Uru where there are more children in the streets than there are in classrooms. Neema International set up our own sponsorship program called NIESP (Neema International Education Sponsorship Program) in 2013. Through NIESP, more than 200 children are one step closer to achieving their dreams and changing the world. 

Every year we’ve encouraged our donors to join us in our “Uhuru for Education” climb to help give these children the education and future they deserve. This year is a bit different. 

As we can’t climb the peaks of Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain, in person due to the global pandemic, we’re excited to announce the launch of a new kind of fundraiser. We’re encouraging you to join our virtual Kilimanjaro climb. Join the fundraiser by walking 37 miles in your local dog park, the cool hike half an hour from your apartment, on your treadmill in your garage or by simply taking a short walk to your favorite coffee shop every morning for the next two months! 

In the last four years, our annual Kilimanjaro climbs have raised just over $110k. These funds have been used to grow Uru Academy and provide a life changing education to dozens of additional children. 

We collected stories from those who climbed Kilimanjaro to fundraise for Neema International in the past. We’ll be sharing their memories and the impact they’ve had on Neema over the next two months.

After hearing about Neema International, Jonathan and Alex decided to go to Tanzania for a six month volunteer opportunity. They kicked off their trip by climbing Kilimanjaro in order to raise money. 

 “I was inspired to climb Kilimanjaro for Neema International because I wanted to challenge myself and have a life-changing experience while raising money for a great cause.” 

– Alex Balser, fundraised for Neema International by climbing Kilimanjaro 

“If you ever have the opportunity to do the climb you have to, there’s really nothing like it. Not only is it a experience of a lifetime for yourself but a way to give back to an organization that does great things for the entire Moshi community.”

-Jonathan Nowak, fundraised for Neema International by climbing Kilimanjaro 

When asked about his favorite moment, Jonathan shared that the last push to the top was both the best and most difficult memory from the climb. “Everyone is tired, sore, and oxygen deprived but we all had the same goal in mind and nothing that could stand in our way between us and getting to the top.” He even had tears come to his eyes as he reached the peak, although he’s not entirely sure whether it was the volcanic dust or tears of joy. 

They utilized their social media platforms to reach family, friends and even acquaintances to get the word out about their climb fundraiser. “You never know who will be interested in donating to a cause that you find important,” Jonathan said. 

Climbing the summit and back down took them 6 days via the Machame route. The Machame route is one of the most sought-after trails up the Mt. Kilimanjaro. It traverses several terrains, starting from a rainforest ending on the snowy crater of Uhuru peak. Many choose this trail due to easier acclimatization to the altitude. They both shared getting to know their guides and forming strong relationships with them as one of the main highlights. However, the most rewarding experience was reaching the peak, Jonathan said, he felt incredible reaching the top and will cherish that moment for the rest of his life.  

Their Kili climb resulted in funding the construction of two new classrooms, one of them is now occupied by the oldest children at Uru Academy. 

“I 100% recommend climbing Kilimanjaro to anyone. Such an unforgettable, challenging, and fun experience, coupled with the satisfaction of using the climb as a platform to make the world a better place. Doesn’t get much better. […] Do it, you will have the experience and triumph for the rest of your life.” 

-Alex Balser, fundraised for Neema International by climbing Kilimanjaro 

Join the virtual climb fundraiser to help us raise $15k in donations. All funds from the charity climb will go to supporting more children in our sponsorship program, NIESP (Neema International Education Sponsorship Program). Neema International has received fiscal sponsorship from the Greater Houston Community Foundation, 501c3 certified organization, making your donations 100% tax deductible.


Get involved by creating your very own fundraiser. We’ve created a fundraiser toolkit to get you started (just click the photo above!). Join us in making more children’s dreams come true by supporting the Virtual Kili Climb-a-thon.  Every penny counts!





Emese Agg