Africa in The Rockies would like to thank everyone who dreamed of outfitting 12 African women head-to-toe in appropriate outdoor gear to climb a mountain.
The project was inspired by our local friend Patty; when she climbed Kilimanjaro several years ago, she spoke with her porter about the lack of women working in the adventure tourism industry. Patty decided she wanted to make the path easier for women to join the industry.
Together with Patty and several other generous women in Colorado, we have well exceeded the initial goal, collecting over 250lbs of donated outdoor clothing and gear to Africa. Thanks to generous hearts, women will have warm, appropriate, well-fitting clothing and footwear to pursue their desire to work in the adventure tourism industry in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
Using spare weight on flights to Africa, the gear was divided up amongst several people who are bringing it over in portions. The gear will then be collected and donated to female porters and guides-in-training in the region. Recently, more adventure travel companies in East and Central Africa have begun porter and guide training with an emphasis on gaining female employees. Historically, it has been an uphill battle in more ways than one for women to climb mountains in Africa. Specialty climbing and winter gear can be quite pricey and hard to come by, and this is especially true in East and Central Africa. There is far less selection than in the US, prices are generally higher, and most gear is only sold in major cities, not rural areas.
Most gear that is donated to guide and porter training colleges is in men’s sizes and styles. Moreover, being a porter, guide, or even being an outdoor adventurer is traditionally considered “for men” in the region.
Unemployment is very high in the rural, mountainous areas of Africa, leaving many women working dangerous jobs in the sex trade; this is especially true in the Rwenzori Mountains of Uganda.
May women’s journeys to the top be easier, and the view looking forward be magnificent and full of promise.