Caring4Girls is an organization that brings girls at school much-needed sanitary pads during their menstrual cycle. The problem is severe: girls from underprivileged communities could miss 50 days of school a year due to a lack of sanitary pads. Charlin Ntuli, an Enterprise and Supplier Development Superintendent at Glencore Ferroalloys, saw the opportunity and decided to take the initiative to help supply school girls with pads. She also went one step further: deciding to summit Kilimanjaro to raise awareness of the problem.
What It Takes To Summit Kilimanjaro
In her training for Kili, Charlin spent a year preparing, learning to live on less food and water, the way she would have to during her trek. The Trek4Mandela team trained for almost a year tackling multiple hikes in the Drakensburg range, Suikerbos in Heidelberg as well as the Westcliff Stairs in Johannesburg.
“Because I am a runner, I continued to do my running but on a small scale,” says Charlin. “I went from barely going to the gym to going every single day for strength training. We also had a pretty strict diet and training programme because our bodies had to get used to surviving on almost the bare minimum. The one thing the team kept drilling into was how extremely crucial it was to prepare myself mentally for what was to come.”
It’s true: the hike remains one of the toughest hikes around, and the 40 year-old Charlin had to learn tough lessons, even with her experience as a marathon runner. “Hiking is extremely slow and takes so much more out of you than running does,” she says.
“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 any more. You begin to hallucinate, you collapse, even seeing people being carried out on stretchers really amplifies what a difficult mission the summit is” she said.
Caring4Girls: Raising Awareness
The communities surrounding Glencore Ferroalloys’ operations are privy to period poverty, and this became an important issue for Charlin, spurring her on during her hike. “The feedback that has meant the most to me is definitely from the parents and the young girls that we have been donating these sanitary pads to,” she says. Every month, if a young girl has no pads, she’s not able to attend school. Pads can be an expense that households can’t afford. By supporting Caring4Girls, you not only support a girl’s menstrual cycle, but help keep her in school and support her future.
Join Charlin and donate to Caring4Girls here.