Lighting Lives: A Humanitarian & Mountaineering Expedition to Nepal

Last year father-daughter team Mike and Lilliana Libeki combined their passion for exploration with a greater humanitarian purpose—they climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, and then installed lighting at an orphanage at the mountain’s base. Now, in an initiative led by Lilliana (13), they’re continuing their crusade in Nepal, where they’re trekking 80+ miles to bring supplies to earthquake victims. Here’s a recap of the Kilimanjaro trip (see video), along with some pictures from their current Nepal efforts. Their mantra through it all? “In world where we can be and do anything, be kind and do good.”

By Mike Libeki

My daughter Lilliana recently turned 13 years old. Suddenly, my little girl is not so little anymore, and she is ready to change the world.

Lilliana has already been to all 7 continents, and, after this Nepal Humanitarian Expedition that we’re currently in the midst of, she’ll have visited 21 countries. She’s grown up with a dad who lives the life of climbing and exploration expeditions as a National Geographic Explorer; a life of traveling to exotic countries and desolate lands in search of virgin Earth and pushing the boundaries of first ascents and grand adventure. Now she wants to live this lifestyle, but her goal is adding in major humanitarian projects to make it all more meaningful.

Some backstory: When she was 9, Lilliana declared she wanted to go to all seven continents by the time she was 12. At age 11, she had only one continent to complete her goal: Africa.

She decided to try to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and one of the Seven Summits. Through her research, she also learned that there are many local orphanages in need. The images and stories she found about the children moved her. She made it her goal to combine her love for adventure with the priority to help others.

A friend of mine, Dean Cardinale, of World Wide Trekking, started a nonprofit organization The Human Outreach Project, and an orphanage in Tanzania near the base of Mount Kilimanjaro called the Kilimanjaro Kids Community. Lilliana wanted to find out if we could help.

It soon became clear that the orphanage needed electricity and computers for education. With further research, we realized the local school, church and community center were also in need. Before long, we had the support of Goal Zero and Dell to ship solar panels, solar generators and laptops.

Lilliana’s plan was to first climb Kilimanjaro, then go to the orphanage and install the solar energy and set up the new computers.

The entire expedition was a huge success.

The experience at the African orphanage changed Lilliana’s life. When we returned, the huge earthquakes in Nepal were all over the media. We soon teamed up with The Human Outreach Project again. Within a couple months, we’d planned a huge humanitarian expedition to the lower Solukhumbu Valley and into Sagarmatha National Parks in Nepal.

Schools, hospitals and community centers needed solar energy and computers. And of course, people were in need of various essential supplies, like socks, warm hats, sleeping pads and utensils.

Now, we are in the midst of this humanitarian expedition—we are currently in Namche, Nepal. Before we left, we shipped thousands of pounds of solar equipment and all the Dell computers, and checked over 30 bags of additional product for the local people. Now part way through our 80+ mile trek, we’ve been installing solar energy equipment village to village with donkeys and yaks, teaching locals to use the computers, and delivering to them the supplies.

Once we’ve completed our goal here, our objective is to ascend Lobuche East, a beautiful 20,075-foot mountain in the Himalaya after our trek to Everest base camp. Thanks to MSR and all the sponsors who have supported this impactful humanitarian mission.

Our Itinerary

Fly from Kathmandu to Phupla and start the trek to the following villages:

  • Walk from Phaplu to Taksindu and Ringmu.
  • Visit Juving High school.
  • Walk to Kharikola, visit Kharikola High School, Girls and Boys Hostel, Mera Primary School Kharikhola Hospital, Kharka Dental Clinic, Kharikola Monastery.
  • Walk to Poyan, visit Bupsa monastery.
  • Walk to Lukla, visit Lukla Primary School.
  • Walk to Phakding, visit Rimijung Monastery, community center.
  • Walk to Monjo, visit Monjo Primary School
  • Walk to Namche, visit Namche Dental Clinic, Namche Medical Clinic, Namche Monastery, Office for Nat. Park Entrance.
  • Walk to Khunde, visit Hillary High School, Hillary Girls and Boys Hostel.
  • Walk to Thame, visit Primary School, Thame Medical Clinic.
  • Walk to Pheriche, visit Himalayan Rescue and Medical Clinic.
  • Then on to the adventure/mountaineering component of the expedition.

MSR helped provide hundreds of pieces of cookware for the expedition.