This winter, the fight against hunger and homelessness will not be the only uphill battle members and supporters of the Yale Homelessness and Hunger Action Program will be undertaking.

This December, a group of adventurous volunteers led by YHHAP treasurer Andrew Towne ’05 will travel to Kenya to make an attempt at the summit of Africa’s tallest mountain, the 19,340 foot behemoth Mt. Kilimanjaro. Each climber in the Climb for a Cause will raise approximately $4,000, with slightly over half going to pay for his or her trip and the other half split between YHHAP and the Watoto wa Lwanga project, a charity for street children in Nairobi.

Magni Hamso ’05, YHHAP co-coordinator, said she is excited that the project will allow the organization to address homelessness issues worldwide.

“It’s really cool to link domestic issues and international issues in such a way,” Hamso said. “A fundraiser like this is really going to allow us to do something extra and to provide better services for the hungry and the people who are homeless in New Haven and abroad.”

The trip is scheduled for Dec. 18, 2004 through Jan. 7, 2005.

Dwight Hall Public Relations Coordinator Benjamin Staub ’06 said he is pleased to see a Dwight Hall member group like YHHAP attempt such an ambitious and far-reaching project.

“It’s really exciting for Dwight Hall to have groups to do these kinds of international projects and fulfilling their goals,” Staub said.

In addition to climbing Kilimanjaro, the fundraising students will make an attempt at Mt. Kenya’s third highest peak in order to acclimatize themselves to the high altitudes, and tour Watoto wa Lwanga sites in Nairobi, Towne said. Climbers will not just be Yalies or YHHAP members, either — the Climb for a Cause will accept anyone over 18 willing to raise the necessary funds.

Towne, who spent last year studying at the University of Nairobi, and climbed both Mt. Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro while abroad, said that Africa’s tallest mountain was a surprisingly easy climb, even for the inexperienced.

“Despite its height, Kilimanjaro is practically a bike path all the way to the summit,” Towne said. “I was able to summit it no problem with literally no previous experience. I climbed it in tennis shoes.”

Towne said that although the goal of the Climb for a Cause is 50 climbers, it will take place regardless of how many individuals sign up.

“Whether we take 10 people or 100 people, we’re going,” Towne said.

Towne said approximately 40 people have joined the e-mail list for the climb thus far, but that the actual number who would raise the money and make the climb was difficult to predict. He said anyone who can hike five hours per day could make the trip.

“The most important thing is that you’re willing to accept the challenge of summiting Africa’s tallest mountain,” Towne said. “We see climbing the mountain more as the perk.”

Nir Harish ’05, a YHHAP member interested in climbing, sees the trip as a unique opportunity.

“It sounds like a really awesome, once in a lifetime way to spend a break,” Harish said. “The cause is great — and climbing Kilimanjaro would be a pretty amazing experience.”

Towne said the next information session for interested parties will take place on Wednesday.