This year, five South Africans will be participating in the Muslim Hands charity trek up Mount Kilimanjaro. The trek, which takes place annually, attracts foreigners from all over the globe to help raise funds for the children of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Muslim Hands, which is an international aid agency and NGO, was established in 1993 and is now working in over 50 countries worldwide providing vital humanitarian aid.
The international aid agency aims to help those that have been affected by natural disasters, conflict and poverty. The organization has in the past successfully responded to many emergencies and has established schools, healthcare clinics and programmes around the world.
VOC spoke to two volunteers, Firhaan Sulaiman and Hashim Nacerodien, for Muslim Hands that have already conquered the trek. The volunteers gave insight to their experiences and the challenges they faced during their previous hikes.
Suleiman explained that what motivated him to be a member of the charity event was his passion for the mountains, which started when his aunt took him as a toddler to see the mountains.
“Ever since then I have been up and down annually and when the opportunity arose to do such a trek with fellow Muslims and to achieve some social consciousness, it was certainly something of interest,” Suleiman stated.
Meanwhile, Nacerodien said that his collaboration with Muslim Hands began last year after being part of hiking community since 2012.
Nacerodien added that the trek is definitely a challenge, which has been made clear after Gugu Zulu sadly died of altitude sickness.
He, however, reaffirms that altitude sickness can be diagnosed and effectively dealt with by the trained guides that accompany the trekkers.
“It is quite easy to notice signs of altitude sickness if our guides are well trained,” Nacerodien said.
Sulaiman stated that although the first day to the fourth day of trek is a ‘walk in the park’, the fifth day (the beginning of the final summit) is what takes a toll on one because of the altitude.
“I assume that it is because our bodily functions want to shut down because of the lack of oxygen. This continues for 2 to 3 hours before starting to feel better again.”
He added that after following a guide for six hours in the dark, they were overcome by a rush of energy once the sun rose and their destination were in sight. This was accompanied by feeling of complete exhilaration once the destination was reached.
“There’s an amazing view from the top, but what was really spectacular is the sun-rise. The sun-rise is one of the reasons we do the trek at night.” Sulaiman noted.
Sulaiman said that he is unable to fully convey the experience of the trek as it to a large extent was an emotional journey that everyone should personally experience.
“I have seen some guys with me that cry like babies because they reached the peak against all odds,” he continued.
VOC (Imran Salie)