Climbing mountains, running marathons and paddling across lakes – all in the name of charity! Next month eight women will attempt to summit Mount Kenya as part of Celebrate Life’s latest attempt to raise funds for its Ubuntu Oven Project.
Most of the women climbing Mount Kenya (the second highest mountain in Africa) in a month’s time have never climbed a mountain in their lives. Some of them are, understandably, a little nervous. But their collective desire to ‘give back’ and strong sense of adventure has them pushing fear and doubt aside, and stepping right out of their comfort zones. Founded by Umhlanga’s Cherry Armstrong, Celebrate Life is an organisation that raises funds for various causes by encouraging ‘ordinary’ women to take on daring adventures in the name of charity. Their current initiative, the Ubuntu Oven Project, helps grow rural women into entrepreneurs by empowering them to run their own businesses in their communities.
Meet the all-female team about to embark on the journey . . .
Cherry Armstrong (60)
The director of Global Clinical Research SA and executive director of Celebrate Life SA, Cherry was born in Kenya and has three children. She is passionate about running, walking, water skiing and paddling.
- Have you done anything like this before? Yes, since we started Celebrate Life, I have summited Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru, finished the Lewa Marathon and paddled across Lake Malawi.
- What has the training been like so far? Hills, hills and hills!
- What are two things we should know about you? I’m determined and I love people.
- What motto do you live by? “Just Breathe”.
Thea Quin (66)
Mother of five and grandmother of nine, Thea has lived all over the world and headed up a community trust in Cambodia. She now lives in Zambia.
- What inspired you to join this expedition? I love adventure and empowering women.
- Have you done anything like this before? Mnt Kilimanjaro, Annapurna in Nepal, base camp Everest, Machu Pitchu, Malanjes in Malawi, Cardemon mountains in Cambodia and a couple of places in the Berg and New Zealand.
- What has training been like? Nothing more than I usually do, which is mountain biking, running, walking, weigh training and the odd yoga class. I’m quite fit!
- What should people know about you? I live ‘out the box’. My life after my children has been one big adventure . . . I don’t need luxury, I love adventure and traveling!
Babongile Mkhuze (40)
Babongile is a transformation consultant at Hollywoodbets in Umhlanga and is originally from the South Coast. She is married and has two daughters .
- What inspired you to join this expedition? The fact that the organisation assists and empowers women from previously disadvantaged communities.
- Have you done anything like this before? I have never climbed a mountain, but I am definitely looking forward to the adventure this trip will bring!
- What, if anything, are you nervous about in terms of the trip? I guess just the fear of the unknown – I have no idea how I’ll react to altitude as a first timer!
- What should people know about you? I’m spontaneous, I live in the moment and I love my family.
Tessa Geyser (49)
Mother of two, Tessa works in marketing and lives in Durban. She loves her job and thrives on physical challenges and traveling.
- What inspired you to join this expedition? Our company has supported Celebrate Life for three years and it’s a privilege to represent the company on this trip.
- What, if anything, are you nervous about? Definitely altitude sickness!
- What has your training been like? I love exercising, swimming and running and I’m addicted to MovementX! I have also started climbing hills in Umhlanga.
- What should people know about you? I get bored quickly and I usually embrace any opportunity that comes my way.
Rachel Manzie (47)
Originally from the UK, Rachel is an HR director, has lived in Durban for 18 years and is mom to 18-year-old twins.
- What inspired you to join this expedition? I love adventure and have seen the amazing work that Celebrate Life does in local communities.
- Have you ever done anything like this before? No! I think the closest physical adventure I have had to this was many years ago when I cycled around New Zealand!
- What should people know about you? I am determined and focussed when I need to be and I love travelling and visiting new places.
- What motto do you live by? I love the Benjamin Franklin quote, “If you fail to plan you are planning to fail”.
Kristin-Jess McNally (40)
Kristin-Jess co-owns a laser cutting company and has three young children who, she says, keep her on her toes!
- What inspired you to join this expedition? My sister (Lisa) called me up and said ‘come climb a mountain with me for charity!’ After she explained that the charity was about uplifting women, I was in!
- What, if anything, are you nervous about? Bar the altitude sickness, the thing I’m most worried about is not being in communication with my family while on the mountain.
- What has your training been like? Mmm . . . I probably haven’t done enough hill training! We are doing a 20km walk in the berg soon and then it’s just hills, hills, hills until September.
- What should people know about you? Once I set my mind to something, I’m pretty determined. I’m a redhead, so I do everything with passion!
Lisa-Rae Lamusse (45)
Business owner Lisa-Rae has been married to her husband Bruno for 23 years and has two sons. The family love spending time on her parent’s farm in the Midlands and on the South Coast.
- What inspired you to join this expedition? Cherry is so passionate about Celebrate Life, and once she explained the opportunity to raise money for this project, I was committed and on board!
- What, if anything, are you nervous about in terms of the trip? Snakes!
- What should people know about you? I am passionate about everything I do. Morals and values are important to me and I strive to teach these to my kids as they grow into their own characters.
- What motto do you live by? Dance like no one is watching you!
Cara Landman (42)
Mother of two Cara Landman is an insurance broker from Ballito. She is very excited to be joining the Celebrate Life team on this exciting adventure!
- What inspired you to join this expedition? It’s a really great cause and I have always wanted to summit a mountain!
- Have you done anything like this before? No.
- What has the training been like so far? It’s been a really great team building experience.
- What’s your motto? ‘’Seize the day!’’
TEXT: Leah Shone