Lucy Watson and Yvette McMillen are hosting screenings at Greater Union Manuka of the Serac Adventure Films documentary of the 2007 team: ‘3 Peaks 3 Weeks: For the People of Africa’. This film is highly acclaimed, winning Best Adventure Film in its world premiere at the Boulder International Film Festival. The film is being screened on Thursdays September 4th and 11th. See later in the article for more details.
Do you feel puffed just thinking about walking up Black Mountain? What if you had to walk the equivalent of that 19 times each day, while carrying up to 15 kilos, looking out for leopards and guerrilla ambushes—for 16 days with 12 complete strangers?
These challenges are exactly what 30-year-old Australian Lucinda Watson will be facing in January 2009 as she participates in the 3 Peaks 3 Weeks (3P3W) challenge to raise money for, and awareness of, the three peak issues affecting Africa—the environment, health and education.
Ever since Lucy spent her toddler days at the feet of Kenyan nannies, she has felt the desire to return to Africa and to help at a grassroots level. But why would a young woman—whose past ten years have involved working in New York with former UN weapons inspector Richard Butler, to gaining a Master of International Law, to her current role as an executive officer within the Department of Defence—want to spend all the time and effort required of 3P3W participants? Lucy describes how this dissimilarity is possible: “I like the physical, mental and psychological challenge of pushing myself, and I want to see change happen at a grassroots level, beyond policy papers.”
The 3P3W Challenge
The 3P3W challenge is not just a walk in the park, nor is it an adventure safari—the challenge also involves the mammoth effort of fundraising, and raising awareness a year before any boot-clad foot steps upon African soil. The challenge was last run in 2007, which raised $370 000 from the 10 member team. The 2009 team comprises 13 women; eight from the USA and five from Australia.
Lucy gained entry into the 2009 team by demonstrating her commitment to the 3P3W causes by pledging to raise funds. As with all participants, Lucy must fund her own travel and equipment costs outside of this. As at June 2008, Lucy has raised $5000 of the $20,000 pledged, through direct donations and selling charity chocolates.
Three Peak Issues of Africa
She might need more than just the odd box of Freddo Frogs to fuel the whirlwind of trekking—at heights of over 5000m above sea level (Australia’s highest peak Mt Kosciuszko is 2228m) and long distances; Mt Kilimanjaro alone is 96 kilometres of trail. Between all this, the team will also visit the organisations that receive the 3P3W support. In Tanzania, the funds go to the School of St Jude focusing on education, and Support for International Change (SIC) Tanzania targeting HIV/AIDS issues. There is also Kenyan based environment conservation organisation called Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF), which promotes initiatives such as eco-tourism and bee-keeping to ensure that locals live sustainably rather than exploiting the environment.
Accompanying the 13 women during the three-week journey, guides ‘Summits Africa’, will carry extensive equipment to get each team on and off the mountain safely. They are trained in First Aid, which is essential for the dangers ahead: altitude sickness, blisters and exhaustion, and the risk of becoming embroiled in tribal disputes.
The adventure begins on 7 January 2009, when all women arrive in Nairobi, then get straight into five days of climbing Mt Kenya to point Lenana, 4,895m (above sea level). On the way, the team will see ice caps, volcanoes, and barren rocky ground contrasted with lush forest.
With barely enough time to catch their breath, the next peak to climb in four days is Mt Meru; with its steep slopes, it is the second highest mountain in Tanzania at 4,566m.
Then after 12 days of bonding and testing their limits, the team faces the toughest peak of all—Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. Over half of any climbers fail to reach a summit. The 3P3W team will climb to Uhuru Peak, which is accessible to hikers.
Such a crammed itinerary is only a small part of the challenges Lucy must face—between now and January 2009 she must work around her demanding job, extensive training to get fit, as well as, raise funds to build on the $5000 she has raised so far for the 3P3W challenge.
Lucy has events planned for the next few months including a trivia night and film screening of the Serac Adventure Films documentary of the 2007 team: ‘3 Peaks 3 Weeks: For the People of Africa’. This film is highly acclaimed, winning Best Adventure Film in its world premiere at the Boulder International Film Festival. The film is being screened on Thursdays September 4th and 11th at Greater Union Manuka, 7pm for 7:30pm, tickets $25 per person. The evenings are co-hosted by P3W team member Yvette McMillen.
So why doesn’t Lucy just buy a couple of raffle tickets or some goatskin book covers from the Oxfam shop? That’s what most of us Aussies do to help out—that ‘mateship’ that sets us apart. But sometimes there are those people who literally go that extra mile to do something special; to push themselves physically, mentally and give their time and effort to help others. And that’s why, when most of us on Australia Day are munching on some snags at a lazy BBQ, we might think of Lucy, who, as she stands upon a peak of Mt Kilimanjaro, is step-by-step helping Africa’s three peak issues.
Tax deductible donations to the 3P3W causes are collected via Save the Rhino International (SRI) accessed via the 3P3W website, and you can specify Lucy as the intermediary. See www.3peaks3weeks.org
To buy tickets for the film night, go to www.civictheatre.com.au [Note, this goes to the Wagga Wagga City Council, don’t worry, this is supposed to happen!]]
Trailer for Serac film is at: www.seracfilms.com/projects/3_peaks/3_peaks_3_weeks.htm