CARSTEN BORDEN Image Credit: Supplied

DUBAI A life coach who turned 60 just weeks ago and two thirty-somethings – an ex-serviceman at the Royal Danish air force and a corporate banker – are headed to Africa’s highest mountain next month to help raise funds for the continent’s abandoned kids.

UAE expats Tricia Evans, Carsten Borden and Omer Sheikh will climb to the summit of the 5895m high Mount Kilimanjaro on June 30 as part of the latest charity drive by Gulf for Good - a UAE based nonprofit organisation that has till date raised over a million dirhams to support needy kids across various African charities by taking over 300 people to Kilimanjaro.

Climbing for a cause

Open to anyone who can commit to personally raising Dh19,000 (50 per cent of which cover the expedition cost while the remaining go to charity), the trek has already received confirmed participation from ten people. “Like everyone, it was on my bucket-list too and had to be done someday. The timing can’t be any more appropriate than now when I have just turned 60,” says Evans, who will be on her tenth expedition with Gulf for Good this year, having in the past undertaken a 570km-odd cycling trip from Angkor Wat in Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, a six-day trek across Mongolia, a five-day Inca trail to Machu Picchu in Peru and a 100km walk along the Great Wall of China. “This will be an entirely different challenge and I can’t wait to be there. I have been to many scenic places but this one will be not just beautiful but daunting as well,” adds the life coach from Liverpool, England who has been living in Dubai since 1993.

Lure of Africa

Touted as one of the world’s most difficult adventure treks, the rigorous high altitude trek to the Roof of Africa, Kilimanjaro” challenge this year – 16th overall for Gulf for Good – will raise funds for Larchfield Charity who are building a home for abandoned children in Tanzania. “This trip means a lot to me as I have lived in that country but never got the chance to scale the peak of Kilimanjaro,” says Sheikh, a father of a four-year old girl. “I always wanted to go back once more and I am glad it happening,” adds the 33-year old Pakistani corporate banker from Lahore.

For 32-year old ex-air force man Borden, it’s the lure of going to Africa for the first time. “Besides that, it’s also a personal challenge. I have seen people climbing Kilimanjaro and thought this would also be a nice way to test whether I can achieve the fitness I once had as a service man with the Royal Danish Air Force,” adds the man from Odense in Denmark who has been living and working in the UAE for the last four years as a pilot instructor.

So committed is the Dane to the cause that he has even set up a web-site www.kili4children.com to reach out to people for donations and is further raising funds by selling rubber bracelets designed by him.

Game for a challenge?

All participants can join free fitness sessions in Dubai to help them boost their fitness and prepare for the challenge over the next three months. Established in 2001 at the International Humanitarian City in Dubai, Gulf for Good is a UAE-based nonprofit charity that supports projects for disadvantaged children around the world through adventure challenges. To date, they have raised well over $3 million (Dh11.1m) and have taken over 1,200 challengers of all fitness levels to places like Palestine, Jordan, Everest Base Camp, Mongolia, Borneo, Macchu Pichu, China and Uganda. To join the Kilimanjaro challenge 2016, see: www.gulf4good.org.