Mt Kilimanjaro is famously nick-named the roof of Africa. At 5,895m it takes incredible will power, team work and mental strength to reach the summit. Each year at Dig Deep we see around 300 student fundraisers reach the highest point in Africa, all in the name of providing clean water to communities in Kenya.
Dig Deep is a small charity, based in Sheffield and founded by student volunteers in 2007. Jo and Pete, at the time in their second year, visited Kenya and saw a need for fundraising vital funds after completing some work alongside Agnes Pareyio (the first ever female Masaii counsellor and UN person of the Year in 2005). They came home and managed to raise £50,000 in their last year at Nottingham and Exeter University for the first initial Dig Deep water projects.
Since then, the charity has been in love with student fundraising and we are supported by hundreds of fundraisers across Britain. We are now entering our 6th year of challenges.
In 2016, Durham University student and Dig Deep group leader, Eve, will be taking a team to the top of Kilimanjaro, conquering the highest free standing mountain in the world. Eve says:
“When I saw the opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro it grabbed my attention immediately, it has always been something on my bucket list that I wanted to achieve. I did think about the physical challenges I will face on the way up and thought am I fit enough to take this on? But it is such an amazing opportunity and I couldn’t turn it down!
Dig Deep’s organisation of the trip inspired me to be a group leader and the support and guidance they give you when recruiting fundraisers makes the challenge much more admirable as you feel part of a team straight away. I am so eager to start fundraising with my group whether it be small cake sales, ticketed events or street collecting. I am looking forward to recruiting my team of fundraisers who are all seeking to fundraise for Dig Deep’s charity which I believe demonstrates an enormous change in Kenyan communities. The money we raise will be put forward to help improve the lives of thousands of people, and I am so excited to see the change that we can provide to others who are less fortunate than us.”
The money that students fundraise has an astounding effect in communities.
Dig Deep build projects such as rain water harvesting systems, concrete latrines, bore holes and taps that all improve access to water and sanitation for communities. Dig Deep is committed to projects for at least 5 years after they are built, aiming to ensure that projects are small scaled, decentralised, energy efficient, environmentally sound and locally controlled . As a consequence of the 5 year commitment, we acquire reports from the teachers, parents and children who use them. We know that clean water and education regarding how to obtain the benefits of clean water improves attendance to school, grades in schools and quality of education.
Sadly, many school days are lost each year, particularly with girls. The majority of the responsibility of collecting water falls onto the girls and they do so during school hours. When they do collect water it is often from a water source shared with live stock, the water is contaminated and people get very ill. Placing a clean water source at a school improves the education and futures of many, many children. Dig Deep also work to educate teachers and girls on sanitary practises during menstruation to decrease the chance of illness for girls during their periods.
We have 2 offices – one in Sheffield and one in Nairobi. We choose to work in Kenya because as a charity we have a very concentrated and expansive knowledge in the areas that our projects are built. Our field staff team is comprised of Justus who lives in Ndanai, Carol and James who live in Nairobi and Jonathon who lives in the Masaai Mara.
Dig Deep is also committed to community led development when managing our projects. What that means to us is that the people who will be using the projects and know the areas best will make the decisions about the projects. They are the experts not us, so we ask them what kind of solutions they would like to see.
Dig Deep have an office in Sheffield where we coordinate all the challenges and fundraising ourselves. We don’t use any UK travel companies to organise our climbs for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it means we can give more money to our projects whilst offering the best fundraising target. Secondly, it means we can ensure that the porters on Kilimanjaro are being treated to the correct standards. There is an unfortunate history of exploitation of the porters on the mountain. These are the guys that carry your bags, tents, filter your water, bring you hot tea in the morning, and they’re going to do everything they can to make sure you get to the top of that mountain! But not all of them will be getting a fair wage, sleeping in safe conditions or wearing the right shoes. Something that Dig Deep are one hundred percent committed to is making sure that these porters are looked after. We work with an incredible organisation called KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project) which is run by an inspiring team of people. They issue responsible tourism titles to companies and we are very proud to say we are the only UK charity who are KPAP approved.
If you have enjoyed reading this article please contact Sarah Caroll on 07775037839 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.