Radlett woman undertakes Kilimanjaro challenge

Ayoola Bandele

Ayoola Bandele - Credit: Archant

A courageous climber is tackling the world’s highest free-standing mountain to support HIV testing in Tanzania.

Ayoola Bandele, 36, from Radlett, is taking on the challenge to climb Mount Kilimanjaro as part of a team of 18 people from across the UK. The climbers will be supporting child development charity Compassion, as part of a campaign for HIV awareness and testing in Tanzania which aims to reduce HIV infections and enable those affected to have fulfilling lives.

Ayoola, who works as a service analyst, said: “I took on this challenge to make a difference to children living in poverty.

“I have heard all kinds of amazing stories about climbing Kilimanjaro and I have never done anything like this before.

“The training has been tough, preparing my body for the climb as much as possible, including hours on the cross trainer, jogging and hiking. Now I can’t wait for the trek.”

During the expedition, from January 21 to 28, the climbers will face gruelling conditions and challenging weather, as well as having to acclimatise to the altitude.

Before the ascent the climbers will visit Compassion projects in the area and meet children and young adults whose lives have been changed through sponsorship.

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The northern base of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania has one of the highest numbers of people living with HIV, followed by neighbouring Arusha and Manyara. in Tanzania there are 1.5 million people living with HIV and AIDS and 1.2 million children who have been orphaned by the virus.

Elias Mwuniuka, Compassion health specialist, said: “This project is really valuable to us because most of the beneficiaries in our projects are young people.

“It is crucial that we build an increasing awareness and education of HIV and AIDS across Northern Tanzania. We hope the benefits of this project will last for generations to come.”

Compassion, which has 106 development projects throughout Tanzania, will partner with the district health department and health professionals to deliver support and access to treatment.

Ayoola said: “I am looking forward to the whole experience but in particular I’m excited to visit a Compassion project and see first-hand the practical ways the funds I raise will impact the children.”