Category Archives: Goals and Growth

Kilimanjaro: The Equality Effect “160 Girls” Project

Seems everyone is climbing Kili these days! I started blogging my climb from 8 years ago because from friend Howard just climbed and he prompted me to reminiscing… Then lo and behold, another friend of mine, Noreen, is about to set out on the climb as well! So I’m going to interrupt my story to share some news on Noreen’s  very important project.

The Equality Effect

Some of you may know that in April of this year I will be attending the wedding of my niece Siv and her soon to be husband Kimaro in Tanzania on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. What you may not know is that before the wedding my colleague Antonella Nizolla and I will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, and dedicating our hike to the equality effect’s “160 Girls”Project. Our goal is to raise awareness about this charitable organization and show support via our fund-raising efforts.

English: A panorama of Mount Kilimanjaro. Pict...

Image via Wikipedia

The equality effect is an innovative charitable organization here in Canada that brings together leading human rights experts from Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, and the international community to conduct legal work on women’s and girls’ human rights issues.

“160 Girls” Project

Their “160 Girls” Project aims to achieve justice for 160 Kenyan girls who have been raped, and ultimately seek protection against rape for all girls in Kenya. The project will involve legal action that will address the root source of the problem – a state endorsed tolerance of violence against women and police failure to enforce existing laws that prohibit the sexual assault of girls. The goal of “160 Girls” Project is to achieve 180 degrees of change, and to ensure that rapists are held accountable and that girls are safe from sexual violence. The project is a legal advocacy initiative designed to protect girls from rape according to human rights law and international standards.

You can learn more about the equality effect, as well as view a four-minute documentary on the “160 Girls” project at:

The problem of rape in many Africa countries is a harsh reality that I have been sensitized to over the years. My work with African students and my experiences in Africa where I visited AIDS clinics and spoke with women and various medical specialists have been revealing. The truth is that very young girls are subject to sexual violence and little is done about it. I have often wondered how I could help. I have thought of contributing to public education, but the truth of the matter is that many important international organizations have been providing public education about violence against women and children, and that is not enough. Laws prohibiting rape must be applied if we truly hope to achieve change, and that is why I feel so strongly about the “160 Girls” Project.


In the last two months Antonella and I have raised about four thousand dollars ($ 4000.00). One hundred percent of the money raised goes to the equality effect. If you would also like to contribute, donations for the “160 Girls” Project can be made on-line at: (Please include our names, Antonella and Noreen, in the message box, and let me know via an e-mail that you have donated so that we can keep track of our fundraising efforts.)

Learn more

If you are interested in knowing more about the girls; the litigation plan; why Canadians are involved; why we remain hopeful despite the history of legal corruption in Kenya; how the money will be used to litigate the case, and so on, please feel free to write me. I will do my best to answer your questions.

Of course, you can also see how official our Kilimanjaro climb is via this great CBC news report where my climbing partner Antonella stars as Montrealer of the Week!

I would also like to invite you to hear human rights lawyer Pearl Eliadis speak at the McGill law faculty. She is founding member of the equality effect and is very knowledgeable about the situation in Kenya and the legal matters surrounding the “160 Girls” project. We would love to see you there!

Finally, thank you so much for taking the time to read, for your positive wishes, for letting others know about the equality effect, and for any contribution you may wish to bring to the cause.

Sincere appreciations,


New Goals & Kilimanjaro Retrospective: Machame

About 8 years ago today, I decided I would climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, as a part of a fundraiser with a group of a dozen other Montrealers. I always enjoyed hiking, but had reached a point where I was in the worst shape of my life. The decision put me in motion. I had less than 6 months to get my act together before the climb. So I hit the gym several times a week, lost 30 or so pounds, and set my mind to achieve something great. And I did!

The experience taught me that anything was possible, if you want it badly enough. However, today, I find I’m back to where I started… Shiftless, no goals in sight, I’ve gained back twice the weight I lost and find that nothing really motivates me. I need to set myself a new challenge and hold myself accountable. Until then… I’ll just share a few experiences from Kili!

Mount Kilimanjaro

In the local dialect Lilma-Ngiaro means “Journey which has no ending.”  Kilimanjaro is actually an ancient volcano. At 19,340 feet high, it is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. The route to the summit gains 4,400 meters (13,000 feet) in altitude, starting in rain forest, then traversing moorland, alpine desert, and scree slopes, before reaching the glaciers of the snow-capped summit.

The route of our trek involved almost 100 km of hiking over 7 days/6 nights. We followed the Machame Route is also known as the Whisky Route. It is so named as a comparison to the Marungu, or Coca-Cola Route. Marangu is a hut-to-hut trek that is shorter than Machame – they sell Coke at the huts, hence the name. Since Machame is more difficult, it gained the name “Whisky Route.” It is also supposedly one of the most beautiful routes on the mountain.

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Day 1 of the climb:
Machame village (1,490 m/4,890 ft) to Machame camp (2,980 m/9,775 ft); 18 km/11 mi

After weighing and loading up all our gear into the minivans, we made it to the park gate and set out around noon. The path climbed gradually but steadily, but the footing was great. The first few miles followed a jeep road, which then narrowed to a wonderful newly reconstructed trail. No mud, rocks, or roots here!  Although the walking was easy, the guides kept slowing us down, chiding us with Pole, Pole (Swahili for slowly, slowly). The slower you climb, the better you acclimatize to the altitude. So Pole Pole is the motto of the climb, used as a greeting and encouragement by the porters, passing by at twice our speed with 40 lbs of gear loaded on their heads!

We stopped for lunch in the lush rainforest. Eventually, the forest shrunk and transitioned to heath. We reached camp late afternoon. The tents were already set up, and there was tea and popcorn waiting for us. What a treat! Highly recommend the guides and porters from Tusker Trail.

From town, in the days before the climb, Kilimanjaro was obscured by the thick band of cloud that hovers above the rainforest. Machame camp gave us our first partial views of Kibo, the middle (and highest) crater of the mountain. That night, I felt the first effects of altitude—dizziness, headache, apnea. At we are not yet at 10,000 ft; we are 5,000 ft higher than where we began in the morning.

To be continued…

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