Johannesburg – Charlin Ntuli, 40, has summited Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness on the Caring4Girls programme.Caring4Girls addresses the immense challenges faced by the girl child due to the lack of adequate menstrual hygiene support.
Ntuli’s participation in Trek4Mandela was inspired by the Caring4Girls programme, which fights sanitary pad poverty in rural communities.
Through her company, Glencore, in partnership with Imbumba Foundation’s flagship initiative Caring4Girls, they have managed to supply over a million pads to those who do not have access to menstrual hygiene support.
As someone who knew what it was like to be disadvantaged, the initiative was close to her heart, more especially when she learnt that a girl child misses up to 50 days of school in a year due to a lack of sanitary pads.
“Summiting became a challenge of not just conquering the mountain, but the daily challenges that she would continue to face in her life as a mother, and a career woman in corporate South Africa,” said Ntuli.
“The further I went, the more important it became for me to reach the finishing line. I knew that just by doing this, I was changing the lives of other young girls, so they can conquer whatever mountains they face.”
“On the journey, I realised that the most important thing you need to conquer any challenge is a strong mind, resilience, and stubborn faith,” she said.
Ntuli said summitting Kilimanjaro reassured her that she was strong and able.
“Even even in my work, I will face challenges, but I now know what I am capable of and so giving up is not an option.”
Ntuli, has described the summit as one of the hardest things she has ever had to do, but still managed to be one of 14 people out of 18 that not only embarked on the journey but were able to summit, with 6 days to complete, 4 days going up and 2 days to return.
“The mountain humbles you. Everything you think you know, your position in society, it all falls away and you must strive to survive with the bare necessities. We couldn’t bath for 5 days and had to survive on very little water.”
“The first three days are challenging but it is on summit night where most people give up because they just can’t go on anymore. You begin to hallucinate, you collapse, even seeing people being carried out on stretchers really amplifies what a difficult mission the summit is,” said Ntuli.
The preparation for the summit was a long and extensive journey. The Trek4Mandela team trained for almost a year by doing multiple hikes in the Drakensberg range, the Suikerbosrand in Heidelberg, as well as the Westcliff Stairs in Johannesburg before Ntuli and the other individuals from corporate and public service, began their climb to assist in raising funds and creating awareness for the Caring4Girls programme on 18 July 2022.
Glencore Ferroalloys CEO, Japie Fullard in his congratulatory message to Ntuli said: “When Charlin first expressed that she wanted to do this I was in awe of her bravery and her commitment to making a difference not just in our communities, but in South Africa as a whole.
“We partnered with the Imbumba Foundation because we were inspired by Charlin’s passion for the project and because it spoke to exactly what we stand to achieve, which is progress together for all.
“As Glencore, we are so deeply proud of Charlin and this brave step she has taken. It is an incredible feat to even begin the journey of climbing Africa’s highest peak and the fact that Charlin summited is something we will marvel at for years to come, he said.
Charlin was also recently honoured by the Mail & Guardian’s awards which showcase 50 powerful women who are on a mission to better the future of this country, in the Power of Women in the Mining and Production Category.
Ntuli remains committed to pushing herself and in her attempt to celebrate and amplify women and girls in South Africa, running her second Comrades Marathon – demonstrating that there are no limits to what women can achieve with great determination.