Giving Kilimanjaro’s Porters a Lift

Teaming with Lions

Without the porters there would be few people hiking to Kilimanjaro’s summit. So when someone says, “I climbed Kilmanjaro,” they did it with the help of the unsung heroes of the mountain.

These overlooked 10,000  men do all the heavy lifting, often being forced to carry more than the 20 kg limit by unethical climbing companies. It’s estimated that just 20 percent of the companies doing business on the mountain adhere to proper treatment of their porters. The porters are often poorly fed and sleep in substandard conditions. The majority of the fatalities on Kilimanjaro are porters –  they succumb to altitude sickness and hypothermia – because of neglect.

Kilimanjaro porters

Tusker Trail owners Eddie and Amy Frank have long sought to improve the porters’ plight and have outfitted, fed and tented them way above the standards set by the national park. In an effort to better outfit porters, Tusker Trail, with its Porter Support Program recently entered into a partnership with the local Lions Club chapter, Moshi Kibo.

These Lions Roar

Tusker’s alliance with the local Lions Club extends its own warm clothing drive with donations of money and/or clothes from caring clients. Tusker’s climbers are asked to take a bag of clothing with them to Tanzania, which is then distributed to the porters. Partnering with the Moshi-Kibo Lions Club also involves Tusker in the Moshi blind and deaf projects which have become models in Africa.

We have been supporting the porters because they don’t really have a voice, and historically have never been treated properly by many of the climbing companies. By teaming with the Lions Club we want to build on the collaboration and leverage their global reach,” Eddie said. “I have watched them build their school for deaf kids and their tree planting programs. They are incredibly devoted and highly effective.”

The Lions’ Msandaka Deaf Center started with eight students sitting on stones in an open air classroom in 1999. Today the school has over 100 students living in four dormitories and taking classes in nine classrooms outfitted with 25 personal computers. Deaf children in Tanzania are often abandoned by their families so the need is great.

Gearing up Together

Many people ask us how they can support Mt. Kilimanjaro porters. At the heart of the Tusker-Lions collaboration is a matching program. Any climber on a Tusker Kilimanjaro climb who donates money to the Porter Support Program will have their donation matched by Tusker and the Lions. The greatest need are warm clothes – especially jackets, pants and durable hiking boots.

Tusker climbers can bring donated clothing in their luggage, donate money to Tusker Trail, who will purchase warm clothing in Moshi’s market.

Tusker has helped many porters survive the grueling demands of their tough job. Now, teaming with the Moshi Kibo Lions Club, global “warming” will take on a new meaning.

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