In a bid to raise funds for educating vulnerable children, employees of Bank of Kigali and Agahozo Shalom Youth Village have hiked Mount Karisimbi, which has the highest peak in Rwanda.
The Karisimbi hike was part of the fundraising campaign in which contributions reached Rwf70 million that will be used to sponsor vulnerable children at Agahozo Shalom.
Contributors included BK staff, Rwandans in the diaspora, among many others.
It took two days for the team of 15 people to climb up and down.
“We chose Mount Karisimbi because it is the highest mountain in Rwanda. We raised money to educate the youth – the most vulnerable being supported by Agahozo Shalom – so that they can be given a story of hope and transformation,” said Nathalie Mpaka, BK’s Chief Finance Officer.
“I expect to see more children, who could not attend school, being supported as they are the future of our country. Climbing a mountain like this will show you that if you can do it one step at a time, the future is bright,” she added.
For Agahozo Shalom, which is located in Rwamagana District in the Eastern Province, BK’s initiative is remarkable as it supports Rwandan education.
“The most important thing is the partnership between Agahozo Shalom and Bank of Kigali. It’s the first time for Agahozo Shalom to have a sponsor from Rwanda,” said Jean-Claude Nkurikiyimfura, the Executive Director of Agahozo Shalom Youth Village.
He added: “This initiative came from Bank of Kigali’s motto of ‘financially transforming lives’ and Agahozo is a school that helps to transform the lives of children who are orphans.”
“By choosing Mount Karisimbi, we wanted to highlight a major challenge we have in improving the quality of education and by helping children who come from vulnerable families. We are grateful to Bank of Kigali for its support.”
Climbing the 4,507m high volcanic Mount Karisimbi took two days. On the first day, hikers climbed for 6 hours and camped for the night before resuming the hike the next morning.
On the second day, which some say was much harder to finish, hikers had to climb a distance of about four hours to reach the top.
The team of 15 people from BK and Agahozo Shalom started the hike at around noon on Friday, November 19 and the first of them returned at about 6:30pm on Saturday.
The whole experience was “very exciting, very tiring and exhausting, but we made it,” Kevin Rudahinduka, BK’s Aheza Programme Director, said after climbing down.
“The most exciting part is that we’ve been able to raise 70 million francs for the children at Agahozo Shalom. We climbed, struggled with the pain of going up and down, but we are satisfied with the overall outcome of the seventy million raised,” Rudahinduka added.
For Brenda Iraba, Agahozo-Shalom’s Partnerships Manager, the Karisimbi hike was “really painful,” but the most important thing, she said, was that the fundraising exceeded its target.
Iraba said: “Initially, the hike was supposed to raise Rwf20 million, but it raised Rwf70 million! To me, that’s the type of initiatives needed to make a transformation. Supporting education doesn’t have to come from elsewhere; it starts from home. We thank Bank of Kigali for this great initiative.”
The hikers said they would like to see more of such fundraising campaigns.
Agahozo-Shalom was started in 2008 by South Africa born American philanthropist Anne Heyman mainly to cater for vulnerable children affected by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The facility was inspired by residential communities built by Israel to cater for orphans after the Holocaust which essentially ensured the orphans’ safety, security, and development.
A team of 15 people from BK and Agahozo hiked Karisimbi.