By Gureni Lukwaro
Life is full of opportunities for fun, excitement, adventure and extraordinary experiences. But for Jayant Menon Manavazhi, Supply Chain Director at American University of Sharjah (AUS), climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania was not only just an opportunity to fulfil his longtime dream, it was also a chance to motivate his children and other youngsters that anything is possible if you just set your mind to it and give it your all.
Jay, as he is known by his colleagues at AUS, set out with a group of 12 individuals from Australia, Finland, New Zealand and the United States of America on Monday, June 27, 2016 for the 40 km journey to Uhuru Peak, the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. There are five different routes namely, Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe and Machame to get to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, famously known as the “Roof of Africa.” The group chose to go via the Machame route.
“It is the most difficult thing I have ever done and I almost gave up,” said Jay. “On the first day as we started the climb, things looked fine, the weather was good and the climate was familiar. It felt just like Kerala (South India) where I am from. But we went through lots of changes as we were going up and by the time we reached the first camp, the temperature had dropped to about 7-8 degrees centigrade and I started having difficulties.”
But despite the difficulty, Jay pushed on as he wanted to prove to his children that he could do it. He wanted to be a role-model to his children and other young people that anything, no matter how difficult it may be, is doable and achievable if you keep at it and not give up. That purpose in mind helped him to keep going taking one day at a time and one step at a time.
“At times I lagged behind the group and it was just me, my mind and my guide. But my guide kept encouraging me to continue. He said ‘polepole’ (slowly in Swahili), your aim is to make it to the top, not to catch up with the rest of the group, just take your time, and you will make it.”
With that encouragement and determination, Jay was one of the nine members of the group who made it to the top. Unfortunately three climbers from his group did not make it for various reasons.
“When we made it to the top, it was all worth it. The three months of training and the perseverance to keep climbing despite the difficulty paid off. It was exhilarating. The scenery was so spectacular. It was just so beautiful and amazing. It was an experience of a lifetime,” said Jay. “The whole experience was so good. The people of Tanzania are wonderful and kind people. The country itself is so beautiful. I will have to take my family there one day.”
According to Jay, one of the many rewarding experiences of the trip, was when he discovered that the income from the Stella Maris Lodge, in Moshi Tanzania, where the group stayed, goes exclusively to paying the teachers and buying food for the children of the Stella Maris English-Medium Primary School which is adjacent to the hotel. So not only is the Stella Maris a beautiful place to relax, but their stay directly helped the underprivileged children of the local village, mostly orphan and vulnerable children.
Congratulations Jayant Menon Manavazhi for making it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, the top of Africa, and for setting a great example for young people to aim high and work hard and persistently to achieve their high goals. For more pictures of Jay's journey, please visit http://bit.ly/AUS_Kilimanjaro.