The Serengeti Challenge is a virtual fundraiser with a purpose
Push your limits while raising money to help some of Africa's poorest people
Virtual runs are an essential way for runners to set goals, train and connect with their community. But, once in a while, they can also do a lot of good for a lot of people thousands of kilometres away. Such is the case with the Serengeti Challenge, an amazing new virtual fundraising event that provides crucial funds for the people of Northern Tanzania, home to some of the African continent’s poorest people.
“This year the situation in Northern Tanzania is even worse and we still need to ensure their safety and that they can still go to school,” says Steve Duncan, who organizes the event on behalf of TEMBO Canada (Tanzania Education and Micro-Business Opportunity). “Since the area, we work in is also near Serengeti National Park we thought it would be an excellent event for our second year. Many visitors to TEMBO also experience a safari in nearby Serengeti National Park so it made sense to make this year's challenge the Serengeti National Park.”
The Serengeti is one of the most famous parks in Africa and is synonymous with wildlife and classic African scenery. It is also home to nomadic Maasai tribes. Participants in the virtual run will receive daily "travelogues" on the uniqueness of the park while ensuring that women and girls that live in the area are empowered.
Participants in the event choose from two different routes. The Elephant Award goes to those who choose the 88-km route equal to the distance from the Naabi Hill Gate in the South to the Fort Ikoma Gate on the Northern border of the park. For walkers, that's about 11,000 steps a day.
“Incidentally, the Swahili word for Elephant is Tembo,” Duncan says. “The more ambitious Gazelle Award will be given to those who travel from the Naabi Hill Gate to the Bologonja Gate in the East, covering 140km or 17,500 steps a day.”
Travelling long distances by foot is common among girls and women in Tanzania. It's not uncommon to hear stories of girls walking 30km in a day to get to an appointment and back. Other girls have to travel considerable distances for firewood, water and school. The Serengeti Challenge is a natural fit to support them.
According to Duncan, participants will be given tools and assistance to create their own team or individual fundraising pages. Daily emails will provide travelogues, athlete stories and details of the run. Participants will have the opportunity to earn virtual medals for distances covered. Virtual medals will also be awarded for the team and individual fundraising: the Zebra medal for those who raise $100, the Giraffe for $500 and the Lion for $1,000.
In Canada, by May many runners, walkers and cyclists begin to increase their training mileage in anticipation of races, challenges and events. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that group training is no longer possible. People need a way to stay motivated and connected with their fellow athletes. The Serengeti Challenge is a great way to stay motivated while helping out those in need.
“All funds raised during The Serengeti Challenge will be used to support women and girls the chance to pursue their dreams,” Duncan says. “TEMBO Canada provides support for educational opportunities including formal education at the secondary and post-secondary level, and informal education for women in rural communities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, TEMBO works to keep girls and women healthy and safe with lessons on handwashing and sanitation, and provision of soap and food packages for families in need.”
In Northern Tanzania, girls are married early, often at age 13, and have no chance of pursuing secondary education. Women have limited opportunities to provide for their families. Many areas experience serious drought that causes undue hardship for the Maasai as they work to sustain their cattle, the predominant source of income in a pastoralist society.
TEMBO Canada works to address these issues through a sponsorship program for girls, a women’s microfinance loan program and goat project, and informal education initiatives offered by staff at the Longido District Learning Centre.
To sign-up visit the Serengeti Challenge registration page.