Jim and Kristy-Lee were made most welcome at the East Meru Community School, donating stationery and Jim doing some concreting jobs around the school grounds.

Jim and Kristy-Lee were made most welcome at the East Meru Community School, donating stationery and Jim doing some concreting jobs around the school grounds.

LOCAL uncle and niece adventure duo, Jim Newton and Kristy-Lee Jones have successfully summited Mt Kilimanjaro, The World’s Tallest Free-Standing Mountain (3895m), Tanzania, East Africa.
Jim and Kristy-Lee climbed the Machame route over seven days, summiting to Uhuru peak at 7am on July 17.
“With temperatures of up to -22 degrees the climb is definitely no walk in the park but the breathtaking sunrise and stunning views of the glaciers is well worth the challenge,” Kristy-Lee said.
“It is hard to explain; no words or photos will give the experience justice.
“The overwhelming feeling of happiness and seeing one of nature’s beauties literally leaves you feeling on top of Africa.”
Jim said it was one of the hardest things he has done.
“I suffered some minor altitude sickness with a headache and it definitely got the heart pumping at times but it was one of the best things I have done in my life and I loved doing it with the little pocket rocket (Kristy-Lee).”
Jim and Kristy-Lee have been travelling East Africa for the past three and a half weeks with Nathan Taiaroa, the founder of the Adventure Out Loud, an Australian-based tour company specialising in delivering authentic travel experiences.
The adventurous duo also hiked up the world’s coolest temperature active volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai, located in the Gregory Rift south of Lake Natron in Tanzania.
Standing at 2980m above sea level, the climb took 16 hours to summit and descend and provided perfect training for the big climb of Mt Kilimanjaro itself.
“It was quite the hike being so steep and definitely challenged all who climbed but what an experience it was!” Kristy-Lee said.
“The view from the crater at the top just after sunrise was spectacular. I remember standing up there looking back over the planes and the sense of achievement when looking down is amazing.”
As part of their African adventure Kristy-Lee and Jim fundraised to sponsor a full year’s education for three students who are living in the Kibera Slum, Africa’s largest urban slum and one of the biggest slums of the world.
Kristy-Lee was fortunate enough to meet one of her sponsor’s aunts at her home.
“There are not too many times where I am lost for words. Seeing the difference your sponsorship can make and having that personal connection when visiting the aunt’s home was overwhelming and I struggled to hold back the tears,” she said.
Jim agreed; “No one should have to grow up in an environment like that of Kibera, yet they make the most out of nothing and still manage to enjoy life.”
Both Jim and Kristy-Lee could not speak more highly of the experiences and friendships created whilst stepping in the shoes of those living in the Kibera slum, all thanks to the relationship that Adventure Out Loud have built with The Mirror of Hope, a community-based organisation dedicated primarily to serving AIDS–affected children in Kibera Nairobi.
Prior to departing on their east African adventure, the Leongatha Newsagency generously donated a significant amount of stationery and stickers to give to students in East Africa.
The stationery supplies were welcomed by many schools including the East Meru Community School, opened in 2012 to offer a free education to students from disadvantaged families.
Jim not only was in his element using his concreting skills around the school, but he also loved the interaction with the students.
“The energy and infectious smiles you see when playing with the students is so warming and you cannot help but be a big kid yourself and join in on the little things in life that you take for granted in your day to day living,” Kristy-Lee said.
After an incredible month in East Africa, full of so many memorable moments, the duo is set to fly back in to Australia on Wednesday, both with warm hearts, big smiles, many stories to share and of course planning their return to East Africa in the not too distant future.