• College Sophomores Plan Kilimanajaro Climb to Raise Money for School in Tanzania


    Tony Tim Gainesville FL College sophomores plan Kilimanjaro climb to raise money for school in Tanzania

    Tony, left, and Tim Louthan will climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for a school for orphans in Tanzania.


    By Shayna Posses, Gainesville Sun Correspondent

    Published: Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 4:13 p.m.

    Tony and Tim Louthan had a pretty typical freshman year of college. Decked out in the classic male undergrad uniform of polo shirts and ironed khaki shorts, the twins speak eloquently about how busy their freshman year of college was and how they’re still uncertain about their majors.

    This summer, though, the twins will step out of their comfort zone. About 19,340 feet out of their comfort zone, to be precise.

    Between Aug. 11 and Aug. 17, the 19-year-old Eastside High School graduates will attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for a school for orphans in Tanzania.

    “It’s a challenge, both physically and mentally,” Tony Louthan, a Princeton University sophomore, said. “It helps us broaden our horizons. It’s a learning experience.”

    The two will join an international team of 11 other amateur climbers to hike up the largest mountain in Africa as part of an initiative by the nonprofit organization Kujali International. The group of climbers is mainly composed of adults, making the teens feel personally connected to the orphans they’re helping.

    “I think this idea of teenagers — well, we only have a year left — but the idea of teenagers helping teenagers is a powerful image,” Tony Louthan said.

    Kujali International was formed in 2006 by two University of Florida undergraduates, Sydney Schaef and Sarah Lowe. Schaef spent a semester studying at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and decided to start Kujali to combat some of the problems she had witnessed there.

    Lowe and Schaef, now graduate students at the University of Oxford, approached the Louthan brothers in January of this year about becoming involved in the project, because Lowe and Schaef had been students of the Louthans’ parents, both UF history professors. “It was kinda something out of the blue,” said Tim Louthan, a Davidson College sophomore. “I’ve never done anything like this before. It’s extremely ambitious.”

    In 2007, Kujali International partnered with the Tanzanian nonprofit Hananasif Orphanage Center to open its first boarding school for teens, HOCET Secondary School, in

    Mkuranga. This free, private boarding school gives 100 students a career-based education in horticulture, animal husbandry, fine arts, solar energy and entrepreneurship in a sustainable facility.

    The brothers are spending their summer raising money that will be donated directly to the school. Their goal is to raise $20,000.

    They are handling their travel costs and expenses privately, which are running around $3,500 each, they said.

    The twins’ interest in Africa started in high school when they participated in a program through the UF Center for African Studies that taught them about African culture and history. As International Baccalaureate students at Eastside, they worked on extended essays about the apartheid problem in South Africa, traveling to the country with their parents to do research.

    “It’s not at the same level as Tanzania, but we’ve seen some of the poverty,” Tim Louthan said. “This is giving us a chance to appreciate what we have. You don’t want to get caught up in the bubble of privilege.”

    Tony Louthan said he remembers reading a statistic that said one in eight children in Sub-Saharan Africa is orphaned. For the twins, this staggering number inspires them to throw themselves into the difficult cause.

    “It sounds cliched, but it’s about making an impact in one kid’s life,” Tim Louthan said.

    Tony Louthan agreed. “It’s easy,” he said, “to become naive and say, ‘Oh, I’m saving the world,’ but I think you have to stay grounded.”

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