The Schools of Kilimanjaro

A Colorado mother and son set out to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to help educate poverty-stricken girls in Tanzania.

Karen DavisThe next time you’re sitting around with a teenager wondering how to bridge the generation gap, consider Karen Davis. This working mother is planning a trip to climb 19,340-foot Mt Kilimanjaro with her 15-year-old son Dustin. And you’re invited.

Davis started traveling internationally with her children several years ago to encourage them to have an interest in geography and languages and become worldlier in terms of understanding different cultures, people, architecture, history, art, religion and food. The mother/son team will travel from their home in Louisville, Colorado, to Tanzania, Africa, July 28–August 17, 2009.

“Dustin and I chose Mt Kilimanjaro because it would be such a great physical and mental challenge. But also because it was a part of the world that both of us were completely unfamiliar with and we wanted to learn more about,” Davis says.

During the research phase of the trip, the pair learned a great deal about Tanzania’s extreme poverty. They decided to add one more component to their journey—they wanted to raise money to help educate impoverished girls in Tanzania.

Through a mutual friend, they heard about Nurturing Minds, a U.S.-based non-profit that supports quality education for bright, motivated Tanzanian girls who otherwise would not attend school due to extreme poverty. With initial seed funding, Nurturing Minds opened a day program last year in a borrowed classroom to provide remedial schooling for girls. The mother/son team’s goal is to raise $150,000 for a permanent facility where girls can learn in an environment void of hunger or the fear of being abused. One-hundred percent of all funds Karen and Dustin raise will go toward the new building.

“Hearing that only one in five kids continue school past 7th grade was really eye-opening to me,” says Dustin. “When I learned that girls are the last selected for school and the first to drop out because of being forced into manual labor or early marriage, it made me want to help even more. I can’t believe stuff like this still happens in the world.”

Karen and Dustin have extended an open invitation to anyone who wants to join them on their trek. “If you’re inspired, we’re looking for climbing partners with passion and positive attitudes. We have space for up to 17 additional climbers,” Davis says. The trip includes a visit to the temporary school in Morogoro to meet the girls.

To go on the trip, contact Karen Davis at If you or your organization is interested in donating, please go to To learn more about how you can help bring quality education to underprivileged Tanzanian girls, visit

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