Greater Heights: Pam Conquers Mt. Kilimanjaro for ECCT

Pamela (middle) ready to face Mt. Kilimanjaro for marginalized cancer patients

Meet Pamela Samasuwo (pictured middle) another addition to the Family of ECCTan inspiring woman who, along with a group of women who form the non-profit organization – 3 Thirtyseven UK – is embarking on a trip to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. The climb’s purpose : fundraising for charity. They depart on 6 September 2012.

Pam has pledged to donate funds raised to support the marginalized cancer patients the ECCT is supporting from 2013. We caught up with Pamela and asked her to give us an insight into this remarkable journey…

Can you tell us a bit more about 3 Thirtyseven?

The vision of 3 Thirtyseven started with Angeline Gavaza our CEO. One day as she stood with a friend watching the sunset in a remote village in Zimbabwe, it became apparent to her that there was more to life than just living. Not long after, Angeline experienced a loss in her family, and at that point  it became a bigger confirmation of  what she felt on that day in the village.

Along with Daphne Kasambala who is originally from Malawi, it became the case of  three ordinary women with an extraordinary dream. We realised we did not just want a one off expedition,  but wanted to create a legacy that would pass down generations. Our main aim was to give back to the African heritage which we had all been born from.  We passionately believe that women have a vital role to play in the development of Africa, and we saw ourselves establishing a flourishing organisation that harnessed the energy of women and engendered the positive spirit of travel, adventure and development for Africa by women of African descent.

We realised that empowerment of  women of African heritage would ultimately lead to making a  meaningful contribution to their countries of origin thus improving the livelihood of others. The latter was to be done by challenging and igniting a strong spirit of travel and adventure in unchartered territories by inviting women to join organised expeditions and outdoor activities for the purpose of fundraising.

Can you tell us a bit more about the fundraising experience your team has been through in 2012 so far?

I have had a bit of a drawback with my health in the last year, thus this slowed me down from doing the many things which I anticipated I would be doing. The rest of my team have been doing amazing things like 10 mile runs every Saturday whereby they wear a ‘Justgiving T-shirt’’ and it has been overwhelming to find that just from this, strangers have been very interested in their cause.

The inspiring ladies of 3 Thirtyseven at the Mt. Kilimanjaro Send Off Dinner a few days ago

How have you and your team been preparing for the Mt. Kilimanjaro climb?

For the climb, each member of my team has a different charity which they are supporting. Kilimanjaro is all about physical endurance. The most frightening thing was for me to hear people who climb mountains year after year stating that it was still so difficult for them. It was even more challenging for the team to realise that at the time of this interview, we only have 2 days left to the Kilimanjaro Challenge!

A year ago, there was plenty of time to ‘start’ the exercising, but as the days got closer, it became last chance training as in the show ‘Biggest Loser’. From a very early stage we realised that in order to be prepared for the climb we needed to change a lot of things in our life style. This meant discipline with what we ate and how we exercised. Angeline as always been a fitness fanatic and she runs miles on a daily basis, come rain or thunder.

Daphne went on a healthy diet fast, then she began to walk and run to and from work instead of taking the car or train. I have been desperately trying to lose weight for the last two years, and went vegetarian. I  decided not to join a gym, but to test how disciplined I would be by just keeping to a schedule of running in the morning and in the evening.

How long does it take to get up the mountain?

Below is our itinerary, which I think is a better way for you to follow our movements.

September 6/DAY 1: DEPARTURE

DAY 2: ARRIVE MOSHI
Transfer to hotel. Welcome dinner and briefing.

DAY 3: MACHAME CAMP / 3000M / 5-6HR TREK
Transfer to Machame Gate. Register and begin Kilimanjaro climb through rainforest zone to camp.

DAY 4: SHIRA CAMP / 3840M/ 6-7HR TREK
Steep ascent through moorland up to the Shira Plateau.

DAY 5: BARRANCO CAMP / 3950M / 6-7HR TREK
Trek through barron moonlike landscape to Lava Tower for lunch and on to camp.

DAY 6: BARAFU CAMP / 4600M / 6-7HR TREK
We scramble up and over the Barranco Wall, then trek onward to camp.

DAY 7: SUMMIT DAY / BARAFU CAMP/ 5895M / 12-13HR TREK
At midnight we ascend by torch light to the summit. Via Stella point we make our final traverse to the highest point in Africa at 5895m. Descend back to Barafu and on to Millennium Camp.

DAY 8: MOSHI / 5-6HR TREK
Descend on Mweka trail to the gate. Transfer to hotel and enjoy a celebratory dinner.

DAY 9: FREE DAY/ EVENING FLIGHT

DAY 10: ARRIVE HOME

3 Thirtyseven team in a past event battling a foggy mountain for charity

What is your reason for supporting the ECCT in such a remarkable way?

I have always had a conscious fear of cancer. That statement may sound cowardice, but this is how as an individual I came to know so much about the disease and how it affects families. Months ago a friend on Facebook commented on a post which I then followed up. I came to know that Teurai Chanakira, the Founder of ECCT had just lost her mother to the disease. I didn’t know her, but I was just touched by the event. I had also just lost a loved one to breast cancer, and it was very consoling to know that my family was not alone.

I messaged her to show my condolence. Soon after I got to know that Teurai had founded a trust in memory of her mother. I then read a series of blog posts on FaraiToday, where she spoke about the whole experience and I was so inspired. All this happened in the process of setting up 3 Thirtyseven and at that point I just knew who I wanted to fundraise for.  Researching further on the situation of cancer patients in Zimbabwe, I knew that it was not a battle that one person should carry alone. Cancer could ultimately affect anyone of us or our loved one.

Earlier this year, I also battled a cancer scare, I consider myself very blessed, in that it was over before I even had to go through a tenth of what other people have to go through. You have got to applaud those who live with the fight against cancer!  My support for ECCT stems mostly from love and is strengthenede by a refreshing focus to go on and give back,  standing by my 3 Thirtyseven vision.

You are also a designer and have designed some unique pieces for ECCT to auction at its 2012 events. Can you tell us a bit more about your journey in designing? 

I studied Journalism, worked in Zimbabwe and abroad, however I have always had a creative streak in me. Over the last few years I have built up a studio within my home, which is a place where I just go to and loose myself making all sorts of things. I started by recycling my clothes, but then went on to make my on handbags and jewellery. I was very blessed to be asked to write for Africa Travel Magazine as a Fashion Editor, and during this experience, I spoke to my husband about the possibility of going back to University to do a course in design.

I went on to study Fashion Accessories Design and qualified as a leather luxury goods designer. I have a very supportive husband and who has assisted with setting up the business, whilst I was studying. In July 2012 my label, Vanhu Vamwe was born, meaning ‘One people’. It sends the message of coming together as citizens of the world regardless of the language barriers and race, the love of fashion, art and colour brings us all together. We create unique Avante Garde accessories using leather, natural and recycled materials. Each piece references our African heritage.

We are excited for the website launch in October 2012.Vanhu Vamwe was invited to showcase as emerging designer in this years Africa Fashion Week LA, in October,  which is an opportunity we greatly value and still in the process of thinking about. We were asked to design accessories by StylishLivingMagazine for Shingai Shonhiwa the Zimbabwean/British singer , who is part of the British band – The Noisettes. In October 2012, I get to work with Paul Smith Designers in coming up with fresh new shoe designs for S/S 2013. That is definitely a highlight! I am humbled by the Lord’s continuous love for me and his grace and mercy amaze me everyday!

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1 of the pieces Pam designed for the ECCT Melbourne event in November 2012


You have designed unique pieces to be auctioned at the ECCT Melbourne event taking place in mid-November 2012. Tell us a bit about your inspiration as you designed these pieces?

As a designer you have to create with a vision , with inspiration. There has to be an emotional, spiritual or perhaps a cultural value to your creations, inorder for them to have meaning. So while I thought about giving back, I decided to do a five neck piece collection for ECCT for their silent auction in November.  I wanted to highlight the concept of brokenness, to show how cancer destroys at the same time look at the positive outcome of  restoration. This collection is called ‘Renewed” and is inspired by the action of putting ‘things together’ that would have been previously torn apart by heartbreak and disease. All the materials used in this project were recycled or an upcycle of something previously discarded. I used recycled plastic bags, old handbags, discarded and revived pieces of leather and vintage beads as well as empty sprite plastic bottles. Upcycling is my forte, it is all about translating creativity at a whole new level. I hope that whoever buys these pieces will carry the nostalgia they carry.


What change would you like to see for marginalized cancer patients in Zimbabwe?

In the 90’s in my early twenties I often had debates which now interest me very much in present day. There was a general thought that black people could not get cancer ..it was only for white people in the West who ate ‘rich’ foods and that if you said you had cancer..the correction was actually HIV/AIDS! The latter is the result of the failure of those responsible in educating their people.  The existence of ECCT is refreshing and one that should be embraced at government level. While there is the Cancer Association in Zimbabwe, there are other gaps which ECCT is envisioning to cover.

I am very passionate about obtaining a positive outcome with the work ECCT does and I would like to see more campaigns in Zimbabwe, to highlight the disease and to educate society on what to look out for. With cancer being the leading cause of death in the country, I would also like to see more Zimbabweans especially those who are live in Diaspora  get more involved in fundraising for this cause and taking a personal interest. We have been fundraising for the ‘girl-child’, for orphans, for HIV/AIDS for years, and some of these charities have a solid foundation. It would be amazing to get them to start investing in marginalized cancer patients in Zimbabwe too. Ultimately it is a circle. A father or mother dies from cancer, the children become orphans, and they need care.

The beautiful & inspiring Pamela Samasuwo

So why don’t we all come together and in the spirit of togetherness come up with a system that serves the problems faced? Pam…we are so inspired by your heart and vision! We wish you and your team a safe and blessed trip. We thank you.

*Support the ladies of 3 Thirtyseven by:

viewing their website

– following them on Facebook 

– following them on Twitter @3Thirtyseven

*Keep an eye on our blog as we count down the days to our freshly updated website which has images/stories of the 5 cancer patients and orphan we are supporting in Zimbabwe! 

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