People | September 3, 2019

Moving Mountains for Literacy



Last month, a team of 9 climbers set out to take on Africa’s biggest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, to bring digital reading to thousands of people in Kenya. This is their incredible #KiliChallenge19 journey.

There is still time to donate and help reach more readers.

A picture of the whole team just one day before starting their climb. In this photo: Tim Cutts, Robert Alsos, Michael Green, Neil Capel, Anne Hannon, Kate Russo, Simon Capel, Chris Thomas and Brad Newton.

It all started with one library

They say that libraries are the cornerstone of a community. We’ve seen first hand that they absolutely can be. With the right resources, libraries represent wisdom, knowledge, education, and hope for community members.

There’s nothing quite like visiting a library that is brimming with books and curious minds eager to learn.

The hard truth is that, without funding, too many libraries still suffer from a severe lack of books on their shelves. These libraries can’t serve community members in the way they so desperately wish they could.

The Webb Memorial Library and Resource Centre in Malindi, Kenya was one of these libraries. For many years the library had been hoping to join our Worldreader program. But, without the funding required, it simply wasn’t possible.

Then there was a serendipitous visit from Simon Capel

In 2018, Simon was visiting the library and quickly realized that it was in serious need of books: “being in a fairly remote coastal area and operating with very limited funding, the library has a very small number of books available for readers. It also has the added problem of the environment – the dusty, humid conditions often cause books to deteriorate,” he said.

After speaking with Doris, the librarian at Webb Memorial Library and Resource Centre, Simon described just how much impact digital books could have on the local community, particularly the secondary school girls: “Doris believes that the digital e-readers will attract more young people to the library and will vastly increase the content available to the local community. The library is particularly popular with secondary school girls. We believe the Worldreader program will boost this important group and help to ensure girls, in particular, stay in education for longer, in turn helping to decrease inequality and break the cycle of poverty,” he said.

Then came the unstoppable team

True to the Salesforce Ohana trailblazing spirit, Simon rallied up a team of dedicated friends and colleagues to embark upon one of the biggest challenges of their lives. The team of nine included Tim Cutts, Robert Alsos, Michael Green, Neil Capel, Anne Hannon, Kate Russo, Simon Capel, Chris Thomas, and Brad Newton.

The team asked friends, family, and colleagues to help raise $50,000 to bring digital reading to the Webb Memorial Library and Resource Centre and two more libraries in Kenya. To make sure every last penny went to the libraries, the generous team paid for their entire trip themselves.

What’s more, FinancialForce, a Salesforce partner, was inspired by the idea and gathered a team of 60 walkers to take on the Yorkshire Three Peaks, in the UK. In doing so they raised valuable funds for Worldreader and provided the perfect training ground ahead of #KiliChallenge19.

And so it began

After tirelessly preparing over the last 18 months, the team was ready to take on Mount Kilimanjaro at a whopping 5,895m elevation. On August 14th, the team started their journey. Over eight days they would climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Here are some great shots from the team as they ascended the mountain: 

Day 2

The team stops for a picture at Kilimanjaro National Park Gate.

Day 8

Woohoo! The team arrives at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Top of the world

A stunning picture taken by the team at the Summit of Kilimanjaro.

“It has been one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences of my life; it’s been great raising money and awareness for Worldreader along with a fantastic team of climbers who’ve supported this project all the way,” said Simon after completing the climb. 

A dream come true

The hard work paid off and the mighty team was able to raise funds to bring the transformative power of digital reading to thousands. On Wednesday the 28th, the whole community of Malindi, Kenya celebrated as the Webb Memorial Library and Resource Centre celebrated the launch of their e-reading program. 

A picture that truly speaks a thousand words. Doris, the librarian can’t contain her joy as she hugs the box of newly received e-readers – a box full of promise for her library and community.

The ceremony was attended by Simon, the Municipal Council chair and her members, the chair of the Malindi Residents Association, the Chair of the National Museums of Malindi, and many more overjoyed community members. 

There’s still a chance to quadruple the amount raised!

The team is still about $10,000 away from reaching their goal of $50,000. If they make it, a generous donor has committed to quadrupling their donation – that would bring the total amount raised to a whopping $250,000. In other words, those last $10,000 will make an impact worth $200,000! So if you could consider donating, your donation will go such a long way in providing digital reading to people in need. 

Worldreader is so grateful to this team of wonderful individuals for their big hearts and all their dedication and extremely hard work to raise funds for these three libraries. We couldn’t be prouder of them and can’t wait to see how these libraries flourish with their new e-readers.