t’s not every day you can make a difference, but when you get the chance there’s nothing more enriching. At 7am on Saturday 15 September, after 6 arduous days of trekking, AIPC Director, Simon Clarke, summited Mt Kilimanjaro, the largest free standing mountain in the world. And in so doing he and the 12 others with him raised $46,875.00 for cancer research.

“It’s a sad reality that most of us have been, or will, be affected by Cancer. Personally, my step-dad and sister have between them fought off 5 different strands of cancer in the past few years. Whilst I knew how challenging climbing Kilimanjaro would be, the cause was very close to my heart — so I didn’t hesitate to say ‘yes’”.

And challenging it was. Despite many warnings, his six-day trekking journey proved much harder than he expected. His group (which included Philip Armstrong, CEO of the Australian Counselling Association) walked up to 12 hours a day, each person carrying up to 10kg in their backpacks. They had to endure extreme heat during the day, and extreme cold at night (summit night being approximately negative 15 degrees). Compounding the difficulty presented by the distance and weather was the altitude.

“It was, without a doubt, the toughest thing I have ever experienced. I thought I was reasonably fit to go through the challenge, but half way into the climb I realised how under prepared I was.”

But despite the pain and struggle, the experience was worthwhile. Simon completed the climb and personally raised over $9,000.00, which will fund over one month of full-time cancer research.


Photo: Simon and his team during the climb to Kilimanjaro’s summit.

Climb for Cancer, and for Africa

Whilst in Africa, Simon and Philip met with the board of the Kenyan Counselling and Psychology Association (KCPA) to discuss their work, their needs, and the development of counselling in Kenya. It comes as no surprise that the work being done there by these well-educated and caring individuals is extremely confronting. They’re all too often called upon to assist in horrific situations with little to no resources beyond what they can fund personally.

The board of the KCPA were excited to receive the Mental Health Social Support (MHSS) program developed by AIPC. They saw great potential in the program being contextualised to their needs and utilised by their Community Health Workers (CHeW’s) throughout communities as an early intervention model to mental health. They identified that the MHSS program could be a valuable tool to empower individuals and build resilience in communities that otherwise suffer from a resource and training shortage.

AIPC is excited about the possibility of assisting KCPA develop a contextualised MHSS program and implement it throughout communities in Kenya, and Africa more broadly.


Photo: Simon and Philip with members of the Kenyan Counselling and Psychology Association.