Radlett climber conquers Kilimanjaro for charity
PUBLISHED: 09:07 15 February 2017 | UPDATED: 09:08 15 February 2017
A Radlett woman has returned from an epic trek up Mount Kilimanjaro to support HIV testing in Tanzania.
Ayoola Bandele, 36, who lives in the Battlers Green area of Radlett, conquered the world’s highest free-standing mountain as part of a team of 20 with child development charity Compassion.
The team included Ayoola’s two friends, Foluso Aloko, 42, and Kwabena Asare, 48, who she met at Jesus House Church in Brent Cross. Together they raised £2,786 for Compassion UK and sponsored 13 children whose lives have been affected by HIV and AIDS
Ayoola, who works in IT services support, said: “Since taking on the climb together we have definitely developed a strong bond. We are no longer just friends but family.
“The training was tough; I tried to prepare my body for the climb as much as possible, including doing hours on the cross trainer, jogging and hiking.
“i didn’t expect it to be so mentally demanding, especially the last stretch to the summit. That was when the exhaustion hit me.”
Kilimanjaro, which is situated in Northern Tanzania, has one of the highest numbers of people living with HIV, with 1.5 million people living with the condition and 1.2 million people orphaned by the virus.
The latest Compassion initiative, called RESPOND, specialises in HIV prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. Before the ascent, climbers had the chance to visit a Compassion project near the base of the mountain and meet children and young adults who had been sponsored by the scheme.
Ayoola said: “Taking up the climb together as friends was an amazing experience. I have gained a sister in Foluso, she is a real inspiration and motivated me during my fundraising with ideas and encouragement.
“Kwabena is like a brother. One evening at the campsite I developed a terrible stomach ache and he stayed with me through the night until I felt better.”
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