PADDLING THEIR OWN CANOE – ALL IN THE NAME OF WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
Scaling Mount Kilimanjaro – the highest peak in Africa – Done!
Climbing Mount Meru – a dormant stratovolcano and the second-highest mountain in Tanzania – no biggie…
Running the Lewa Marathon, 160 kilometres from the equator, through a Kenyan wildlife conservancy? Ticked.
The next challenge for the women supporting the Celebrate Life SA Global organisation is a gruelling paddle across Lake Malawi in that country in September this year. The paddlers will set off from the Malawian shores and make their way across the water to the Mozambican border.
What makes all these achievements even more remarkable is that those participating are all ordinary women – in the workplace, housewives, mothers – not professional sportswomen at all!
The various endurance-adventures completed by these gutsy women from KwaZulu Natal have contributed much-needed funds to Celebrate Life’s projects in conservation and the community over the years.
The first fundraising event – the Kili Climb – raised nearly R1 million in the fight against cancer for Hospice. Subsequent challenges have brought in the money for Save the Rhino, Thula Thula Rhino Sanctuary and now the Breadmaking Oven Project.
To date, eight businesswomen have signed up for the “Paddle Lake Malawi” challenge in September – to paddle 27 kilometres across the lake in a day. The women are currently training like demons for the gruelling event – practising as a team under the watchful eye of Hank McGregor – as well as each raising at least R50 000 for the initiative.
The trip and the single one-man canoes will be donated by corporates and individuals. All funds raised will go directly towards Celebrate Life’s latest undertaking – The Breadmaking-Oven Project – which is aimed at women empowerment in the communities.
“We have been looking for a worthwhile challenge to tackle – to empower the women in the team and take us out of our comfort zones – ever since the last adventure (climbing Mount Meru in 2014),” says Cherry Armstrong, founder of Celebrate Life SA.
“This latest expedition is really more than just a fundraiser,” Armstrong explains. “It is also an awareness-raiser about empowering women to run a successful bakery and highlight what they have achieved in disadvantaged communities. The project is highly sustainable.”
Celebrate Life has donated several breadmaking ovens throughout KwaZulu-Natal since the initiative began (five in the last six months). The organisation is now focusing on assisting women in the Savannah Park (west of Durban) and Hammarsdale areas.
“It really does ‘take a village’ to come together and rise above circumstances – and these women are our inspiration during our training and the Paddle itself,” Armstrong adds.
She is referring to The Women’s Organisation of Savannah Park, whose community projects include growing their own vegetables to put food on the table.
“They sell their veggies to the community and grow anything from butternut to herbs,” Armstrong explains. A breadmaking oven was recently installed so the women can bake bread to feed the orphans as well as sell the loaves to the residents of the area.
“Not only was the oven set up, but the women were also given three days training to enable them to be the best bakers ever. The ovens can bake four loaves every 25 minutes – the foundation for a very productive undertaking!”
The Women’s Empowerment Programme for the Disabled in Hammarsdale is the most-recent recipient of a breadmaking oven.
“These women make goods for resale out of recycled plastic and are a wonderfully-motivated community,” Armstrong adds.
The Celebrate Life organiser is appealing to companies and individuals to support the paddlers by adding their sponsorship.
“Donors who are BEE registered can accumulate BEE points as Celebrate Life holds both an SED certificate and can issue an 18A Tax Certificate for tax savings. From a business perspective the contribution to the Malawi Paddle and the Bread-Oven Project is a financially-savvy one,” Armstrong adds.
Women with an adventurous spirit who would like to join the expedition and raise funds to help empower women in disadvantaged communities can either visit the website for more information at www.celebratelifesa.org or on Facebook: celebratelifesa.global or contact Cherry Armstrong on 082 440 1730 and email [email protected]