She was the first African woman to summit Mount Everest and lives by the motto, ‘Why just climb and take a selfie when you can climb and make a difference.’ Now, Saray Khumalo is helping others climb toward better futures in one of the most important ways for South African youth:
South Africa (08 November 2023) — Saray Khumalo’s name is already written in the world’s history books. But, her gaze is future forward; sharply set on another ambitious journey for the future of South African.
As the first black African woman to summit Mount Everest, Saray knows a thing or two about what it takes to tackle an overwhelming climb. Still, the heights she wants to reach remain unlimited as she carries the underprivileged children of South Africa with her to help them climb to better futures.
The terrain that they must now cross is its own kind of stressful terrain—the digital divide. But, Saray and others know that this is a trail that must be conquered if we want to see the next generation stand a chance in a world that seemingly every day, becomes more digitally advanced.
Facilitating accessibility has long been a driving force for the iconic trailblazer, especially when it comes to literacy.
Her Everest summit was about a lot more than achieving a world first as it also set out to fundraise for a library and outdoor gym for children in need. In fact, since 2015, her foundation, Summit with a Purpose, has been involved in building traditional libraries. Amid her incredible determination, purpose has always been a secret weapon.
“Since 2012, I’ve lived by the motto ‘Why just climb and take a selfie when you can climb and make a difference.’’ This became particularly important to me during the Covid-19 outbreak when I saw how the children from privileged environments were able to simply navigate the pandemic online while others were left behind.”—Saray Khumalo.
But during the pandemic, the realisation that underserved children faced even more odds as the world turned on its axis and began circling around the computer, became apparent. The pandemic might have ended, but the digital divide has only widened.
In response, Saray’s efforts have been channelled toward combatting digital disadvantages. The goal now is to install digital libraries across the country as part of a bigger goal to give the future generation a fighting chance in combatting unemployment.
Campaigns Summit With a Purpose has been involved in have already raised the necessary funds—from spinning to trekking adventures.
Thanks to these campaigns(which have spanned years), children across our country and beyond it, can look forward to digital learning facilities in the very near future.
These libraries will be equipped with tablets and projectors, and teachers will undergo training while monitoring the progress of the children. The learning material will also reportedly be updated in real-time.
They are destined for Manamani Primary School in Venda, Limpopo, Francois Visser Primary School in the Northern Cape, Community Provision & Social Services (COMPASS) in Edenvale. Another is set for a school in Namibia in 2024.
This is part of an even bigger goal to install a digital library in every country on the continent—an endeavour that makes Everest look like a smooth stroll, but one that could change Africa’s narrative in unfathomable ways.
“People keep saying that Africa has the youngest population in the world, but this fact is of little value if that population is not educated and prepared to led the world. This project is my small contribution to that,” Saray shares.
“Digital education can help connect children with the world and evolve their thinking, showing them that their dreams are possible. With these libraries we can open their world to so much more than we have been able to with traditional libraries,” she concludes.