This is the final of four dispatches from Travel Weekly
editor in chief Arnie Weissmann about his pledge drive to raise money for
Tourism Cares by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with his daughter, TravelAge West
associate editor Emma Weissmann, and son Dashiell, a student at Boston
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Byrdyak
More from Arnie
"Go tell it on the mountain."
By combining a Kilimanjaro climb with a pledge drive benefiting Tourism
Cares, Arnie Weissmann said he could overlay meaning, motivation and inspiration to a trip he'd
put on hold for too long.
"Facing the wall."
Kilimanjaro keeps getting closer. Interestingly, the further you are from it, the more intimidating it seems.
"Kilimanjaro and the point of no return."
The evening before summit day, Arnie Weissmann's 19-year-old son, Dash, was nauseous.
From the beginning, my plan to climb Mount Kilimanjaro was
closely tied to a pledge drive for the industry nonprofit Tourism Cares. I’m on
its board of directors, and one of the things the organization supports are “social
enterprises” in tourism zones, that is, businesses or co-ops which often keep
alive traditional crafts and customs and are structured so that the money stays
in the community.
Tourism Cares assists by helping connect these operations to
the travel industry (thus bringing in customers) and by giving grants to help
them get started or expand.
There happened to be an organization in Moshi, Tanzania,
which is where most climbers stay as they prepare to scale Kilimanjaro, that
was already on Tourism Care’s radar as a potential beneficiary of our climb.
It isn’t a social enterprise itself, but rather an engine
that launches social enterprises.
“Give a Heart to Africa” is a nonprofit school for local
women who want to start a business but lack appropriate education and
A co-op of women including (from left) Beatrice Joseph, Lusarie Kundael and Hortensia Leoni Kiwaly call themselves the "Moshi Mamas." Their shop combines crafts they make and souvenirs they buy wholesale. Photo Credit: Arnie Weissmann
The school screens candidates to evaluate their likelihood
for success; those accepted must be literate and have the capacity to learn.
Every six months, about 50 women complete a three-part curriculum that teaches
them English, provides vocational training and requires classroom instruction
on how to run a successful business.
In a Give a Heart to Africa classroom, a staff member translates the definition of “expenses” and “revenue” to new business students. Photo Credit: Arnie Weissmann
It’s the brainchild of Monika Fox, a native of the Czech
Republic who now splits her time between Moshi and Toronto.
She arrived in Moshi 10 years ago. “I wanted to work with
women in Africa, originally with the idea of providing microloans to start
businesses,” she said. But she found the potential borrowers lacked the
training that would lead to business success.
Mary Rogath Massawe and Anne Awed Lyatun (left) started the Kili Kitchen after graduating from the Give a Heart to Africa business curriculum started by Monika Fox (right). Photo Credit: Arnie Weissmann
Emma, Dash and I sat in on classes and visited three of the
businesses started by graduates. The classes are taught by volunteers who pay a
nominal amount for food and housing and live in the same compound where the
school is located.
We visited on the first day of instruction for a new class
of students: volunteer John Fewtrell was teaching the definitions of profit,
loss, expenses and revenue in one classroom while his wife, Jenny, was teaching
English in the next one over. Both are from the U.K.
Fox said that the average age of students is 30; 60% are
single mothers (day care is provided onsite), and each Friday she, as well as
volunteers and staff, visit the students’ homes with a small gift. The visit is
undertaken to allow the families to ask questions and to nurture a supportive
home environment for students.
The three businesses that spun off from Give a Heart to
Africa that we visited were all geared to Moshi’s tourism economy. The “Moshi
Mamas” run a crafts and souvenir store; the Kili Kitchen makes box lunches for
tour operators to cover the first day on the mountain; and the Lala Salama Spa
offers massages (and, Emma was delighted to discover, pedicures) for those just
down from the mountain.
In the Lala Salama Spa, those who have just completed their Kilimanjaro climb can get a massage. Or, perhaps, a pedicure. Photo Credit: Arnie Weissmann
Fox accompanied us on those visits and was greeted warmly by
the proprietors. It was clear that her program was helping these women provide
services that had been embraced by travelers and had also led local women to a
level of self-sufficiency they likely could not have attained on their own.
Once back in the U.S., I spoke with Tourism Cares about my
impressions of Give a Heart to Africa, and we agreed that a portion of what
Emma, Dash and I raised should be given to support its effort to help women
begin sustainable businesses in tourism.
Part of the purpose of our KiliCares climb was to raise
awareness of the important work Tourism Cares does, and the other part is to
raise money for the organization. If you haven’t donated yet, please do so now,
and I’ll be delighted to add your name to the growing donor list.
And do take a look at that list -- I
think you’d agree you’ll be in good company.
The Weissmanns are back from their climb, but the pledge
drive that inspired their journey continues. They climbed to support the
industry nonprofit Tourism Cares; click here to show your support with a
donation. Also, check out the pledge drive Instagram feed: @Kili.Cares.
Climb sponsors/disclosures: Sponsor Tusker Trail provided a
50% discount to operate the climb; sponsor Kenya Airways provided roundtrip air
from New York to Kilimanjaro International Airport; sponsor Northstar Travel
Group, parent company of Travel Weekly and TravelAge West, provided email
blasts and advertising space to solicit pledges.
Many thanks to the corporations and individuals who have
donated to the pledge drive so far. Click for a complete list of donors and
acknowledgements to those who supported the pledge drive. Please add your name
to the list by donating!