Interview with Maciej Golabek and Robert Zywczyk
They want to help Barka by climbing Kilimanjaro.
You are living in Southampton. You have your life, responsibilities and work there – where did the idea of climbing Kilimanjaro come from?
Maciej: Personally, for quite a while now, I have been modelling my lifestyle around books. For the last 15 years I have been reading motivational books. I decided to try and pursue more of what those books teach you to do – if you want to gain something, you have to give first. I began to visualise my life from this perspective.
Kilimanjaro was my idea; it was an idea that originated from the book, which I read 15 years ago. Suddenly, out of the blue, this idea that I had initially forgot about, sprang to mind last year. It was written down on a big plan, on paper, but it had simply slipped my memory. Last year, I walked 800 km to Santiago de Compostela and something inside me had opened up and suddenly I remembered. That is how Kilimanjaro sprang back to my memory. I convinced Robert to join me…
Robert: …it was his (Maciej’s) idea. He has implicated me in it and I have accepted it willingly.
When are you setting off and coming back from the expedition?
Maciej: We are setting off on 31st January 2015 and we are planning to return by 13th February 2015.
Why have you decided to support Barka UK through the expedition?
Maciej: Suddenly, all the ideas had begun to come together. One of my colleagues suggested that we should combine the expedition with fundraising for a charity. Since I had been involved for some time in various charitable initiatives in Southampton I decided that it would be a great idea.
I spent up to about four hours researching various organisations online and Barka’s name, which also happens to be the same title of Pope `John Paul II’s favourite song, the connection automatically appealed to me. Considering the fact that the organisation was struggling financially to fulfil its projects, all those elements came together into one piece. Thus we decided mutually to support Barka UK.
Did you consider other organisations?
Robert: No, not really. Once Maciek saw your website he was convinced that that was the one.
Maciej: I work for Southampton Council and I often meet homeless people. British colleagues often tell me: “Look, this homeless person is from Poland, and Barka is supporting Central and Eastern European migrants in the UK”. Therefore I realised it was all somehow deeply connected.
How are preparations for the expedition going? How does a person need to prepare for this kind of challenge?
Anyone can do it in their own way. We have an amazing guide from Poznan, Mr Kostrzewa, who is a GOPR member. In about one month we will be going to the Tatra Mountains for a 3 day course. Last year, all members of the expedition reached the summit. He is a very good and experienced guide. This has increased our optimism. On top of that I run approx. 30 kilometres a week.
Robert: I run a little less than that [laughter].
Maciej: I do various exercises. Owing to the trip, we need to work very hard at the moment, therefore it’s not always possible to combine exercise and work commitments together. However, I think that we will need to spend some more time on preparations yet, in order to improve our physical form.
Do you have any worries with regards to the expedition?
Maciej: Not on my side, except for our parents, who were making us scared by saying: ‘You need to be careful, it is dangerous there’, ‘Be careful, they have Ebola there’… At first, they were against it, but I can see now that they are proud of me and that they have accepted my decision. Perhaps, I am afraid of the altitude.
Robert: We will be well protected. Of course, we had to take vaccinations for various diseases that are commonplace in Africa. I think that it was a decision we took 2-3 months ago, or even earlier than that; we are undertaking our preparations.
People, who undertake challenges, usually do it to prove something to themselves or to the world. What would you like to prove to yourself or to society?
Robert: Yes, I agree. Most of all we wish to prove something to ourselves that we are still capable of achieving a lot despite the fact we are no longer in our twenties. There are, however, people who are older than us who have succeeded in climbing Kilimanjaro.
Maciej: Exactly, I fully agree with what Robert has just said. Personally, from what I have read, I know that mountains are a great source of electromagnetic energy. I would like to come closer to God. We will climb to the summit and descend from it, and I believe that it will be a great spiritual experience.
What should we wish you before the expedition?
Maciej: Oxygen… [laughter]
With Maciej Gołąbek and Robert Żywczyk. Interviewed by Paula Borowska.
Proof reading: Lee Seaman