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S African Indian to climb Kilimanjaro

Kay Naicker, an Indian origin banker, will scale Africa's highest peak to raise funds for a regional hospice.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 11:25 IST

Two South African women, one of them of Indian origin, are preparing to scale Africa's highest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro, in July to raise funds for a regional hospice in this country.

Kay Naicker, an Indian origin banker and a mother, and her partner Vanessa Phillip will make the attempt for the sake of Verulam Regional Hospice.

Verulam, a town of 60,000 people, mostly Indians, is just 28 km north of Durban.

According to media reports here, while Naicker has never climbed a mountain before, Phillip has done some basic rock climbing.

The two, who are gym partners, also share a mother-daughter relationship.

At 19,340 feet, Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the highest peak in Africa. Its highest point is Uhuru Peak on the volcano Kibo.

The first to reach the summit was a Marangu army scout, Johannes Kinyala Lauwo, who then went on to climb it nine times more before realising that there was a crater.

Lauwo later acted as a guide for the first ascent by two non-indigenous climbers, German Hans Meyer and Austrian Ludwig Purtscheller.

A report in the Daily News newspaper quoted Naicker as saying: "I decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of the Verulam Regional Hospice because it is in my backyard. I see people go in there every day and decided to help."

This is not the first time that Naicker had ventured out to raise funds for the hospice.

Last month, she had braved icy winds to complete the London Marathon with daughter Kubeshini for company.

Prior to that she had run the Boston Marathon last year. And each time she has managed to raise funds for the hospice.

Why Kilimanjaro? "Not only is it right here in Africa, but I also read somewhere that being at the top of Kilimanjaro is like being close to god," Naicker told the newspaper.

As for her partner, Phillip, an occupational therapist, she decided to take part in the attempt because it was for a good cause and she "couldn't pass up the opportunity for adventure".

"I'm in the medical profession and I've worked in hospices in other countries, so this is a cause close to my heart," Phillip was quoted as saying.

Though the duo is covering the expenses for the expedition, which is scheduled for July 10-15, they are asking firms to pledge cash to the hospice.

Naicker said they have managed to raise 15,000 rands so far but were hoping for more.

As of now, besides raising funds, the two are preparing for the climb proper, with hopes of finally reading these words: "Congratulations! You are now at Uhuru Peak, Tanzania, 5,895 m. AMSL. Africa's Highest Point. World's Highest Free-Standing Mountain. One of World's Largest Volcanos. Welcome."

Those are the words on a signpost put up by the Tanzanian government.