With a 42 percent HIV and AIDS rate and 200,000 orphans living in the country, the African nation of Swaziland is a country wracked with seemingly insurmountable conflict. But volunteers from all over the world are raising money to assist the country by hiking one mountain at a time.
A group of local hikers ranging in varying skill levels is set to summit the 10,068 ft. Mt. San Antonio, better known as Mt. Baldy, on June 30 in an effort to bring much-needed aid to the impoverished nation of Swaziland. The group is made up of local organizations, including , , and Glendora business owners.
The California team is part of Summit 4 Hope, a fundraising effort made up of teams from all over the world hiking some of the world’s tallest peaks from Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to Mt. Jade in Taiwan.
The proceeds of the project go to Heart for Africa, a Christian-based non-profit providing aid for the children affected by poverty and the AIDS epidemic in Swaziland.
Projects under Heart for Africa include Project Canaan, which creates self-sustainability and income through farming and export, as well as provide education opportunities for children.
“If nothing is done in that country within the next 10 years, the whole population will literally be wiped out,” said Zack Swire, co-team leader for the California team. “The people there need to be educated, they need sustainable jobs where they can build their future and hopefully stop this cycle of what’s been happening there.”
Last year, Team California raised between $15,000 to $20,000, said Swire. Close to $100,000 was raised worldwide.
While volunteers aim to raise awareness and funds to Swaziland, Swire said the physical accomplishment of hiking the San Gabriel Valley’s tallest mountain is just as rewarding.
“Not only do people get to contribute to this project, people personally get a lot out of it,” said Swire. “It was really neat to see people achieve their personal physical goals while hiking the mountain.”
Three different routes will be available during the summit, including a 2.5-mile, a four-mile and an eight-mile hike.
Hikers of varying skill levels can join, but Swire suggested novice hikers gain some practice and training before attempting the summit.
Team California offers practice hikes on Glendora’s Garcia Trail. Interested hikers can visit the team's facebook page for more information.
Registration for the Mt. Baldy Summit 4 Hope hike is $50. To register, visit http://summit4hope2012.eventbrite.com/.