41 years, Australia
Expeditions can challenge anyone. However, no matter how challenging, a physically difficult goal is beneficial for people with cerebral palsy. Working on controlling, strengthening, and loosening muscles helps with learning patterns, which can increase coordination. Many people with disabilities participate in a variety of sports and extreme physical activities. And one woman who has cerebral palsy has taken the idea of a physical expedition to a whole new level and challenge.
Imagine waking up and deciding that you were going to climb the tallest mountain in Africa — the elevation is 19,341 feet. Not many people choose to exert so much physical effort. I don’t think I would be brave enough to conquer any mountain, and certainly not the tallest one in Africa. Now imagine being almost 40 years old, having cerebral palsy, and wanting to climb the mountain. Cerebral palsy is a disability that makes moving muscles in the intended direction very difficult.
Masingita Masunga is a media specialist, television personality, and philanthropist who has cerebral palsy. As her 40th birthday approached, she made a list of 40 initiatives that she plans to accomplish before she reaches that milestone. The initiatives focus specifically on women with disabilities because Masingita believes that society often ignores the many inequalities of women with disabilities.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro — which she began on June 19, Tuesday — isn’t just for her own sake of accomplishment. She’s climbing for every child in Africa to know that anything is possible with determination. By climbing, she is also raising money for the African Dream Village, an education center created by Masunga because she believes that the educational system in Africa is limited. She wants to change the curriculum and make a place where every child is encouraged and free to learn.
Masingita would like children to understand that no matter the goals she has chosen, she can climb high to reach them. Getting a cerebral palsy diagnosis at 4 months old has given Masunga her own uphill battle in education and in her career. She has been a television personality, but as she mentioned in this article, even when people recognize you, they aren’t always nice to you.
Masingita like others realizes that having a disability is not something they can control. So it’s best to do the best they can with what they have.
For eight months, Masingita has been training rigorously to prepare for her climb. Cerebral palsy has affected her ability to walk, but she walks 6 miles every day. Her doctors had told her that she wouldn’t be able to drive, but she has now holds a driver’s license. One of her biggest struggles with the expedition is the lack of sponsorship. She planned to climb with a group of 39, but it’s been reduced to eight. She has set up a crowdfunding page to assist with all of the other initiatives that she has planned.
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