On 27 March 2014 five Discovery employees handed over a cheque for R163 562. 25 to the CHOC House in Saxonwold. These five Discovery employees raised these funds during their Glamping4Charity campaign last year, which saw them climb Mount Kilimanjaro in support of CHOC South Africa, and for those who live with cancer and in memory of people they have lost to cancer.
Team leader, Linda Perlov, a CSI Specialist at Discovery, lost her mother to cancer 15 years ago says, “We decided to volunteer and invest our time in training for our climb up Mount Kilimanjaro for charity because we both wanted to challenge ourselves and make a difference. We believe that each one of us can make a difference, no matter how big or small, that can change the face of our country for better.”
The funds the Glamping for Charity team raised will be used to revamp one of the CHOC Houses in Soweto. “The CHOC houses are homes away from home for children with cancer. They accommodate children who don’t need to be hospitalised, but who need treatment every day,” Perlov says.
“We are thrilled a few Discovery employees volunteered their time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of CHOC South Africa, and raised funds for the renovation of one of our CHOC Houses in Diepkloof, Soweto. Theirs is a fantastic achievement for notable reasons,” says Sophie Ndhlovu Fundraising Coordinator at CHOC.
Perlov believes volunteerism is important as it important for individuals and organisations to get involved in initiatives that give back to their communities, to society because “it is all about creating shared value between businesses and society that will have a lasting impact on both current and future generations.”
All you need, Perlov says, is passion to get something organised and pursue it. “Climbing a mountain was never on my bucket list,” she says. “This expedition, this goal to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in support of people living with cancer, and in memory of those who lost their lives to cancer was something that was totally out of my comfort zone, but I decided I needed to do something difference for once in my life,” Perlov says. “I needed to push myself to my limit to understand me better, and climbing a mountain seemed to be the perfect vehicle to challenge myself and raise funds for CHOC in the process.”
Perlov shares that the biggest challenges she and her team experienced during their Mount Kilimanjaro climb was the weather. “From the first day, we were faced with rains and cold winds which made climbing a lot harder due to the slippery terrain, and all the gear we needed to put on. Yet, we persevered and did not give up. Our most memorable moment was when we reached Uhuru Point, which is the highest peak on Kilimanjaro,” Perlov says.
Marcel Du Preez who heads up People and Operations in the Discovery Marketing department says was no easy feat to accomplish, and what got the team to the top was determination to see it through no matter what the obstacles were. “It is important to stay solidly focused on your goal,” du Preez says. “You may think it is your body that gets you there, but it is ultimately the power of the mind that does” he says. “This focus to achieve my goal of reaching the summit was hugely important for me as although I was not hiking fit, despite being gym fit, I suffer from a knee injury that surfaced again in the middle of the trip before we submitted. I was in agony, but put it out of my mind and just went for it.”
Perlov says, “Together, we all stood tall for our own personal reasons for climbing, and go to do something that not many have, or will ever do in their lifetime – summiting the Roof of Africa.”
The Discovery Employee Volunteer Programme encourages employees to give back to society and be an active force for social good by participating in initiatives that make positive difference to society. Some of these initiatives include the annual CANSA Shavathon, participating in 67 minutes for Mandela Day, raising funds for Bandana Day and more, and by adopting a project such as CHOC, which they can support on an ongoing basis. The Discovery Employee Volunteer Programme has twice won the Mail & Guardian Investing in the Future Award in the Investing in the Future: Best Corporate Employee Community Involvement category (2012, 2013).