Due to COVID-19, Kilimanjaro porters’ livelihood has been affected. So, we at Easy Travel make an effort to provide food to our hardworking porters who always take care of our valuable guests on the Mountain.
Kilimanjaro mountain crews are made up of tough, tough guys. Climbing Africa’s highest mountain, looking after hikers on different terrains, carrying their luggage then making camp or cooking and serving meals: all of these tasks can be a part of a Kili crew member’s daily routine.
Caring for those who care for our guests
Good crew members make for happy hikers and they play a huge part in looking after those who visit Tanzania seeking to reach the Roof of Africa. But who looks after the crew, in difficult times when a pandemic threatens to take away their livelihoods, almost overnight? If no-one is visiting Tanzania, no-one is climbing Kilimanjaro and none of the crew – with their own families to care for – are earning a living.
As a responsible member of the Kilimanjaro Porters’ Assistance Project (‘KPAP’), Easy Travel recognised that the crew members needed to be looked after, and quickly. But how best to do that?
Easy Travel held discussions with the crew members, to make sure that any help that was offered was going to be the right kind of assistance. After consultation, it was agreed that Easy Travel should provide the crews with maize to meet their short-term needs for food, both for them and their families, usually three or four people. And this was a big operation, with Easy Travel purchasing nearly 22.5 tonnes of maize to distribute equally to an incredible 372 crew members. (It is quite extraordinary to think how mighty Kilimanjaro provides a living for so many Tanzanians!) This maize represented three months’ supply for the crew members and their families, much-needed food to see them through a very difficult time. But that was just the beginning.
…and helping them to help themselves
At this time of year, the rainy season in Tanzania is over, so providing land to the crew members to grow their own crops would have been pointless. But being a company focussed on sustainability, Easy Travel was determined to do more to help, much more than just handing out short-term food supplies. It was decided that in July, some 30 of the porters who were already engaged in small-scale farming would be given training in farming techniques, organized by KPAP. With training completed, Porters will then be allocated some land by the Easy Travel Directors, Musaddiq and Sayyedah Gulamhussein, to let them farm maize for further distribution to the other crew members later in the year. Easy Travel will also provide funds to allow the purchase of the necessary seeds and tools to ensure that efficient farming can take place.
Tough times, tough guys – but still smiling and grateful!
Many hikers comment favourably on the great spirit and resilience shown by the mountain crews who guide them up Kilimanjaro, how they encourage the hikers to reach the very top. In the COVID- 19 period, these adaptable crews are showing once again how they can face up to the biggest of challenges.
And they are grateful, too. Says Sam, one of Easy Travel’s trusted and experienced mountain guides: “ I am so proud of how Easy Travel has helped me and all my colleagues – porters, fellow guides and mountain chefs – in this really difficult time while we all wait for our work to resume. I wish that all Kilimanjaro operators would do the same.”
While the pandemic has certainly been a difficult time for everyone, it has shown the importance of having strong partnerships to provide support to those who need it. And it has given Easy Travel the chance to show its mountain crew members just how valued they are.