It seems like only yesterday, when all clad in dust, huffing and puffing I made it up my first mountain – Mt. Longonot. It was from this feat that an amazing idea was born: Summit Seekers: Climbing for a Cause.
The concept of Summit Seekers was two-fold: Impact (one life at a time) through Hiking and giving back by way of fundraising to support charities who are in need of funds.
What was meant to be a regular hiking experience soon had a goal and target attached to it. We pegged our Hike Goal to be the Ultimate Mt. Kilimanjaro, and our target was to raise Kshs 250,000 ( US $2,500) by end of that time.
A “Training Schedule” was made with prep hikes and main hikes to ensure (everyone) we were fit to climb.
We didn’t know, at that time, that Summit Seekers was going to gain momentum and that at the end of our target period, Feb 2017, we would be taking 16 people up Mt. Kilimanjaro.
But, we did.
From Humble Beginnings, with just 2 other hikers, then gradually growing in numbers, Summit Seekers today is a Brand!
I remember designing the logos, doing the marketing on FB and Instagram, learning the how-tos of Social Media just to get traction, and surely enough it all paid off.
I also remember being thrown out of my comfort zone and being left to lead teams through some of the hikes with little experience, as my Co-founder dealt with his own issues. But again, as I garnered social media skills, I learnt how to organize, plan, manage and lead.
As Summit Seekers celebrated it’s One Year Anniversary on 6th June, 2017, and our Co-founder returned to resume his role, I decided to hand over the reigns to him and make my bow. I accomplished what I had set out to achieve, and now this gift was for him to look after, grow, and to give his life purpose.
How do I feel about this?
Perturbed, of course. Summit Seekers was my “baby”. It had become me. And it had become difficult to extract Alia, from Summit Seekers. But things were beginning to get a little messy. We cannot have two horsemen controlling the same chariot, so I decided to relent for the good of Summit Seekers. With Hiking and technical expertise, it was best that my co-founder stay and I move on.
It has been the most amazing year of my life with new discoveries, both external and internal. I manged to get to see so many beautiful places in Kenya and meet such amazing people, and foster close bonds with many.
I realized my strengths in leadership and management, as well and my weakness in keeping it all under control under pressure.
I fell in love with nature, and nature never let me down. I now know that no matter where I am in life, or in the world, I can take to nature and find peace, calm and solace.
The Unspoken – Kilimanjaro
Although I know I had promised to do an account of Kilimanjaro, I still cannot get myself to do it. It is a very personal experience with too many personal ‘expectations’ tied to it. For Summit Seekers, this was a crowning moment. We achieved what we had set out to, with a 100% success rate. But as far as personal attachments to this cause go, not even one came through. And I think it is because of this that my decision to step away stems. As mentioned, or not, Summit Seekers was born out of a personal need. Somewhere along the lines, that personal need was lost and it became all about others. One day, when the world is prepared to listen, I will tell you the real reason why Summit Seekers was born. Maybe then you will not judge me for “abandoning” my baby and moving on.
Has Summit Achieved what it set out to achieve?
Unbelievable YES!!! I could never have thought that through hardwork, dedication and commitment (are these two the same?) and a passion so fierce, something like this was possible. Having people trust you with their lives everytime – is a feat on its own. I guess everyone saw how committed we were to this project and more so, they believed in us.
Not only did we get to the finish line (Kilimanjaro), but we managed to raise KShs. 140,000 (US $1,400) towards our cause. Even though we did not make it to our target, we raised something. And what is interesting is the monies came in from all over the world! (Thank you!)
Will I continue to Hike?
Well, Ramadhan has been a good cause to get over the “Sunday Blues”. Having hiked every weekend for the past year becomes habitual. And although I consoled myself with the excuse of Ramadhan (Summit Seekers continued their hikes in Ramadhan), I know it will be really challenging to re-organise my Sundays. But Yes, I do intend to hike again. But whether that will be on an independent basis or with Summit Seekers remains to be seen.
Yes, Kilimanjaro. I would like to go back and Summit Kili, but on my own. Spend a few days in Moshi and then take on the Mountain almost as a meditation. Hopefully, if God wills, I shall return in October. Which is why, I have to keep up with Hiking!
The book of life has many chapters, some good and some not so good. But as we continue to read this book, we need to end one chapter in order to begin a new one. Summit Seekers was one such chapter in my life. A very special chapter. No matter how much thanks I pay to my Co-Founder for beginning it, it will never be enough.
But I feel like it’s time to end this chapter and start a new one. Just as you find that a certain fragment/quote from a particular book/chapter remains with you, Summit Seekers will forever remain in my life.
The time has come to start a new Chapter in life: ME. I’m looking forward to this one!