Kilimanjaro by way of London

One of the things I love about working with Plant With Purpose is that I get to work with some wonderful people and be involved in some really interesting projects. These including taking friends and partners to visit local programs, meeting with churches, individuals and corporate partners and simply sharing stories of how Plant With Purpose’s work is having a positive impact on the lives of rural farmers around the world.

One of the most interesting and unusual things that I’ve been privileged to be a part of in recent years is the Wings of Kilimanjaro event, which will happen early next year in Tanzania as a large group of paragliders – maybe up to 200- will climb Kilimanjaro and paraglide off the top. The purpose of the event, beyond having an amazing adventure, is to raise $1 million dollars for reforestation, clean water and educational projects in the Kilimanjaro region.

We at Plant With Purpose get to be on the receiving end of all this generosity, along with the One Difference Foundation and WorldServe. What an incredible blessing!

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At the Wings of Kilimanjaro Fundraiser in San Diego

I finally got to meet the guy who’s vision has been driving this project, Adrian McRae, this last weekend when he showed up in San Diego for one of the local fundraising events leading up to the big February launch. I expected a big, brash personality, but was kind of surprised to meet someone who, while clearly driven, was also very low-key and self-effacing. He has invested lot of his time, resources and heart into putting this event together with the goal of simply helping people who genuinely need help. (Despite a certain amount of economic progress in Tanzania, roughly 34% of the region’s population lives below the poverty line. Rural smallholder farmers are among the region’s poorest people. The agricultural help available to most is slanted towards the heavy use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. We provide alternative ways for farmers to raise their incomes by helping them increase productive without the use of harmful chemicals.)

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After being trained by Plant WIth Purpose, Starehe and Inapende started a business selling coffee tree seedlings to neighbors for extra income. They now sell about 30,000 trees a year. This allows them to keep their kids in school and have money available for other essentials.

So today I’m on my way to London for some kick-off events to try to raise the profile of the Wings of Kilimanjaro event. (I know, poor me!) I’ll meet a few more pilots from the more than 30 countries who are giving of their time and money to make the event happen. Not only are they putting up their own money to go on the trip, but they are raising at least $5,000 each for the three charities that are benefitting. As one of the people who raises funds to make Plant With Purpose’s work possible, I can’t begin to express how grateful I am for that! Not only because it makes my job easier, which it does, but because I know the Plant With Purpose team on the ground in Tanzania and the quality of the work they are doing- it’s first-rate. I have also met quite a few of the farmers that we work with- also amazing and inspiring people who are working hard to give their children a better future. It gives me a lot of joy to know that we’ll be able to work with many more of them because of Wings of Kilimanjaro.

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 Hangin’ with WOK pilot Jason Kinch- truly putting the fun in fundraising

This fall I’m going to be posting more on this blog about Plant With Purpose’s work in Tanzania and the Wings of Kilimanjaro event- stay tuned!

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