GREETINGS to all! It is a day of gratitude and celebration, with all of our climbers safe and back down from the mountain!
We had quite an evening last night… with the mountain guides and porters joining us at Mama Florentina’s… for feasting, prayers of gratitude… and many stories of the challenges they faced and overcame. There was laughter… and tales of how everyone had to let go of “fear and personal dignities” in favor of survival!
I must correct my previous blog entry- the climbers did NOT have a 24 hour rest before the final ascent… our information was incorrect. In fact, they remained on their feet for 22 of the last 24 hours! Torrential rains complicated their pacing and slowed their movements over very slippery rock faces. At some points, they were literally clinging to rock faces!
Poppy has suffered from extreme lung congestion throughout her climb, with Ron coming down with it midway, too. She believes she had the beginnings of bronchitis when she left the U.S. The climbers carried antibiotics with them, so she began taking them during her climb. With the thinning altitude… 50% less oxygen… she was compelled to remain at their last camp, rejoining the group at their descent. She literally could not exert and get a breath, too.
Poppy describes watching the group begin their night time ascent, “all wearing headlamps, a winding trail of tiny lights making their way upward.” As she watched the lights of the climbers, she saw “a beautiful falling star arc over them”, and “believed them to be safe and protected” in their final journey skyward. As she continued watching them move out of sight, she found peace in her role, in that moment, of holding a prayer space of hope and faith for the group.
Mama Florentina Masawe, with a heart condition and at 62 years old, made it to Stella Point, the last peak before Uhuru…Freedom Point… a difference of only 200 meters altitude from the absolute top of Kilimanajro! She is thrilled with her effort and the group is truly in awe of her. She began her ascent every day, 2 hours earlier than everyone else. She paced herself… slowly, slowly… so she could keep going. Last night when she arrived home, she immediately went into town, shopping for food and making arrangements for the celebration!! Truthfully, everyone else looked like they were in a bit of shock when they came down… it took a while before they all looked cognizant Not Mama!
The remainder of the group made the final, almost vertical ascent… to Uhuru… Mary, Margie, Catherine, Ron and Jeremy. And I can tell you, they are grateful and very happy to have made it. What an incredible group of people! The gift of effort, heart and symbolism of It Can Be Done! will continue to inspire us all- in our lives and for this water project, in Africa and at home. IT HAS BEEN DONE!