Nelson Mandela Foundation

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Three of the ambassadors for the Trek4Mandela “Keeping The Girl Child in School” initiative, actor, Jack Devnaraine (left), Morning Live’s Leanne Manas (third from left), and television personality Penny Lebyane (second from right) at the launch of this year’s Kilimanjaro Challenge. With them are Sibusiso Vilane, the group’s climbing guide, NMF CE Sello Hatang, who will also be climbing, and the man who started the project, Richard Mabaso 

Today, 17 February 2015, saw the launch of the fourth annual Trek4Mandela Kilimanjaro Challenge.

This year the initiative aims to raise enough funds to ensure that 270 000 girl children will not miss a day of school.

Founded in 2012 by Richard Mabaso, the concept of Trek4Mandela and Caring4Girls was sparked by a conversation between his mother and niece that he overheard, about his niece’s first menstrual cycle.

Mabaso thought to himself that something had to be done to ensure that talks surrounding things such as puberty and menstrual cycles took place before the event actually occurred.

We have to ensure that our girls get the maximum support they can in order to be able to go to school. We cannot afford to have people who failed to go to school because of a need that is so basic, that we could have fulfilled.
Sello Hatang, Nelson Mandela Foundation Chief Execuitive

Mabaso, who had always wanted to climb Kilimanjaro, now had even more reason: he not only wanted to say that he had summited the mountain, but he also wanted to climb it in the name of Mandela Day and to raise funds to purchase sanitary pads for girls in rural areas.

“I never ever in my wildest dreams anticipated the initiative becoming this big. It has been an amazing journey but with lots of challenges, especially trying to tap into the CSI space, which is oversubscribed in South Africa. What we managed to do innovatively was to bring in the Kilimanjaro – whereby we can give people something exciting, but at the same time doing good,” says Mabaso.

“One of the things that Graca Machel said to us at the send-off last year was that we should continue doing this, knowing and understanding one thing and one thing only: that we are standing on the shoulders of giants – the Madibas, the Tambos, the Sisulus and all the struggle heroes who have paved the way for us to be able to have the freedom to create new ideas, and execute those ideas in the name of doing good and using them – struggle heroes as our mirrors,” adds Mabaso.

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Morning Live’s Leanne Manas, one of the Trek4Mandela “Keeping The Girl Child in School” ambassadors, at the launch of the 2015 Kilimanjaro Challenge. With Manas is Sibusiso Vilane, the group’s climbing guide, NMF CE Sello Hatang, who will also be climbing, and the man who started the project, Richard Mabaso 

Trek4Mandela is carried out in support of Caring4Girls, an initiative also established by Mabaso, that supports school girls with sanitary towels, and related puberty and adolescence awareness – elements that are of great importance as research has shown that a girl could miss up to 50 days of school per year due to menstrual challenges.

Mabaso, who will be leading the trek with partner and South African adventurer Sibusiso Vilane, continues: “I guarantee that I will summit that mountain, and on behalf of the climbers we will make sure that the target of 270 000 girls is reached.”

Sello Hatang, Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, who will also be climbing Kilimanjaro, says: “The fact that you are all here says that we care about these girl children and their futures.

“It’s important that we note how many peoples’ lives have been touched thus far and how we want to quadruple that number.

“We have to ensure that our girls get the maximum support they can in order to be able to go to school. We cannot afford to have people who failed to go to school because of a need that is so basic, that we could have fulfilled,” adds Hatang.

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Luvuyo Mandela, social entrepreneur and Nelson Mandela's great-grandson will also be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Luvuyo Mandela, great-grandson of the late Nelson Mandela, will also join the climb. He says: "It’s quite poignant that this initiative was started by a man, as we need to change the mindset that people have about women and the issues they go through.”

Luvuyo Mandela adds: "I would like to applaud Richard for getting the initiative to this point, and also want to encourage more young men to stand up for women and the issues they face.”

The climb up Kilimanjaro will summit on 18 July 2015, which is Nelson Mandela International Day. There will be 27 climbers, one for each year that Madiba was in prison. Each climber is aiming to raise at least R1.5-million for Caring4Girls.

Morning Live presenter Leanne Manas and husband Marc Menelaou will also be tackling Kilimanjaro. Says Manas: “Being born in Africa comes with responsibility. It is my responsibility to do what I can for the girls in South Africa. In this day and age there shouldn’t be anyone who’s missing school because of a period; it is the most natural process that girls go through, and yet it is still frowned upon."

Nodumo Novuka, a representative of Lil-lets, a founding sponsor of the initiative, says: “We are honoured to be a part of this initiative and we hope it inspires more people to live up to the ethos of Mandela Day, every day.

“Lil-lets understands what it means to be a woman in South Africa, including the issues they go through when experiencing periods. So far we have donated sanitary products worth R2-million and this year we are pledging to donate R2.5-million worth of stock towards the Trek4Mandela initiative.”

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Nodumo Novuka, representative of Lil-lets, a founding sponsor of the initiative

“Madiba always advocated education as a key to success,” says Darlene Smith, marketing executive of Lil-lets Premier Home and Personal Care. “As a company, Lil-lets agrees wholeheartedly and this is why we support the Caring4Girls initiative, one of the benefactors of this year’s Trek4Mandela expedition.

“Our We are Women campaign has a similar vision, and through our daily conversations with women we realise how great the need is, and that we all should strive to make every day a Mandela Day." 

Nthabiseng Mogale, of Winnie Mandela Secondary School in Gauteng and one of the beneficiaries of Trek4Mandela, says: “Thank you to Caring4Girls for being there for us on our darkest days. We are very grateful that you are doing this for us.”

Dr Tebatso Boshomane of the South African Medical Association says: “We are going to be a part of the executive group that will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. We’re quite excited about the challenge because it’s an opportunity to exert ourselves physically, while at the same time participating in something that is carrying forward the Mandela name and has an impact all over South Africa.”

To support the initiative, members of the public are encouraged to send an SMS with the word “Girlchild” to 42513 and pledge R30. Terms and conditions apply. For further information, contact Nkateko Mabale at


Trek4Mandela Day participants currently include:

  • Sibusio Vilane, Dream Encouragers CEO and expedition leader

  • Sello Hatang, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation

  • Richard Mabaso, Imbumba Foundation, founder and Trek4Mandela concept innovator

  • Kofi Amegashie, managing executive: Adcock Ingram Healthcare, Africa

  • Mo–G, Kaya FM, radio personality

  • Jerry Mabena, CEO: Thebe Investment

  • Mokgethi Tshabalala, CEO: Thebe Foundation

  • Zukie Siyotula, CEO: Thebe Capital

  • Mpumelelo Mkhabela, editor at the Sowetan

  • Moula Amegashie, director: Spencer Stuart

  • Elise de Beer, leadership advisory services: Spencer Stuart

  • Leanne Manas, SABC: Morning Live presenter

  • Marc Menelaou, Sanlam Capital Markets, head: Money Market – SCM & SGT

  • Jack Devnarain, SABC: actor

  • Thato Molamu, managing director: Gateway Media

  • Pat Pillai, CEO: Life College

  • Tshepo Ramodibe, executive head: stakeholder engagement and reputation management at Vodacom

  • Grace Khoza, executive director: group branding, marketing and corporate affairs at AfroCentric

  • Geoffrey Qhena, CEO: IDC

  • Nodumo Novuka, corporate communications and CSI at Premier

  • Luvuyo Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s grandson

  • Fikile Kuhlase, senior general manager: Socio-economic Growth and Development at The Banking Association South Africa

  • Muzi Mhlambi, manager: programmes at The Banking Association South Africa

  • John Wright, owner/CEO: HTM Projects Pty ltd

  • Dr Mike Gradwell, executive: Manufacturing Support and Development at SA Mint

  • Tebogo Thekisho “ProVerb”, ProVerb Music, Hip-Hop artist/entertainer

  • Jonathan Butt, Douw and Carolyn Steyn

  • Brenda Lindiwe Mabaso, research and marketing intelligence at Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone

  • Her Excellency: Ms Radhia Msuya, High Commissioner of the United Republic of Tanzania

To view the gallery, click here.

Media enquiries

Danielle Melville


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Trek4Mandela 2014 was successfully launched on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 at Endless Horizons Hotel in Durban North…