Join us as we delve into the remarkable journey of Andrea Bogner, owner of Bogner Motor City Truck and Car Repair Center. She is also the MIWA Central Regional Chairperson and a trailblazer in the world of Autogas conversion in South Africa.
Five years ago, Andrea took on the towering challenge of summiting Mount Kilimanjaro and returned not only triumphant but transformed.
As we read Andrea’s story, the Andrea who embarked on the monumental journey of conquering Mount Kilimanjaro, and the Andrea who emerged transformed from the summit, we couldn’t help but sense the profound change that had taken place within her. The story she shares unveils not only the physical challenges of the climb but also the deep insights and lessons she gained along the way.
The Andrea who began this journey was no stranger to challenges. A spirited individual with a heart dedicated to raising awareness for abused children and animals, she saw Kilimanjaro as an opportunity to translate her passion into action. Little did she know that the path to the summit would demand more from her than just physical strength.
In her own words, Andrea’s ascent was punctuated with moments of self-doubt, where the mountain’s sheer magnitude mirrored the daunting hurdles in life. Yet, she pressed on. The lessons she had garnered in teamwork and resilience proved vital companions on her climb, much like fellow trekkers by her side. And with each step, Andrea discovered the potent synergy between mind and matter.
Through physical strain and mental exhaustion, Andrea’s outlook underwent a remarkable transformation. The summit was no longer her sole fixation; the journey itself became the destination. She discovered the art of embracing discomfort, finding solace in the rhythm of her breath and the beauty of the landscape that enveloped her. It was in those moments that she internalised the concept of perseverance—both on the mountain and in life.
Returning home, Andrea carried with her a wealth of insights. The Andrea who faced Kilimanjaro’s challenge was not the same as the one who descended, triumphant. She spoke of the surprising unity she found within her vulnerability, the strength in admitting when she needed assistance. The mountain had stripped away pretences, leaving a truer version of herself, unburdened by façades.
The humility she acquired was accompanied by a newfound appreciation for life’s nuances— the joy in small victories, the wisdom to let go of what no longer served her. Andrea’s journey is a testament to the power of stepping beyond one’s comfort zone, even if it means confronting fears head-on.
As Andrea shared her story, her words reverberated with warmth and wisdom. The metamorphosis she experienced resonated deeply, affirming that the lessons learned on Kilimanjaro are threads woven into the fabric of life. She emphasised how the climb was a mirror, reflecting back the strength she carried within, waiting to be unleashed.
Andrea’s journey is a reminder that sometimes it’s the mountains we ascend, both figuratively and literally, that shape us into the people we’re destined to become. Her transformation from the Andrea who set foot on Kilimanjaro to the Andrea who returned, a beacon of resilience and insight, is a tale that encapsulates the essence of the human spirit—unyielding, adaptable, and deeply capable of change.
As you read Andrea’s story, let it spark your own sense of adventure and self-discovery. Let it remind you that within every challenge, there’s an opportunity to evolve and emerge stronger than before.
Mount Kilimanjaro: A Journey of Strength, Reflection, and Growth
by Andrea Bogner
I returned from Tanzania, having climbed the majestic Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. It was the hardest and toughest thing I have ever done in my life. There were eight of us, all climbing for different purposes and causes. We named it ‘Kilionpurpose’. My cause was for abused children and animals, as they cannot speak for themselves.
My journey began long before I set foot on the plane to Tanzania. I said yes to Kilionpurpose not because it was on my bucket list, but because when I heard from Cobus Visser (a dear friend of mine, SA’s top motivational speaker, and Master Fire Walker) that they were forming a group to climb Kilimanjaro for a purpose, I knew I wanted to make a difference and raise awareness for abused children and animals. One of my challenges was not having the funds to do this. I am not used to asking people for money; I have always made it on my own.
This forced me to be humble, to ask and receive. It changed my perception. It takes all kinds of people to make this world of ours beautiful. Accept it, move on, don’t dwell on it, and most importantly, don’t take everything so personally. ‘No’ only means ‘go on to the next opportunity.’
I learned that it’s about pushing through. If you want it badly enough, what are you willing to do to make it happen? Is your ‘WHY’ big enough? I received two big contributions from companies I never thought would help me. It humbled me and made me realise that ‘God has a hand in this.’ Thank you.
For everyone who helped, your name is forever on the flag. I am grateful, thank you.
On Motivations, Goals, and Being Present
This is one of the things Kilimanjaro taught me: when I climbed my mountain, it taught me to be present. There are no distractions on the mountain – no phones, no luxuries. You have so much time for yourself. There is only water when you get thirsty, no Rooibos Cappuccinos. Just the necessities to nourish your body so you can reach your goal. After all, this is why I’m here.
On the first day, after a 10-hour hike, we thought that was extreme. Little did we know that the first day was the easiest. We all sat together and reflected on what happened during the day. We highlighted the good and the bad, our strengths and weaknesses. We realised that we actually complemented one another – one person’s weakness was another person’s strength and vice versa.
My goal was to climb Kilimanjaro, reach the top – Uhuru Peak, and raise awareness for abused women and children. I had gone through a very difficult time after my dad was murdered a few months before.
When we arrived at base camp around midday, the altitude was 4,673 m above sea level. The top of Kilimanjaro, Uhuru Peak, is 5,895 m and 5 km away. We had lunch and were advised to rest. Our attempt to summit Kilimanjaro would start at midnight. It was a challenging journey that began long before we set foot on the mountain.
Extreme Mental and Physical Challenges
On the climb upwards, it was pitch black. All I could see was the majestic blanket of stars above me and the thousands of little lights ascending the mountain. Our headlamps illuminated the path and we looked like small ants marching up the mountain. There were many other groups also attempting to summit that night – over 100 people in total. The darkness was profound, with visibility limited to about 2-5 metres. As the journey continued, we understood why we summited at night – seeing the challenge in daylight may well have discouraged us.
As we walked, the path became steeper and steeper. We encountered big rocks, loose stones, and gravel. It was a continuous ascent except for the top parts, where snow and slippery ice added to the challenge. The temperatures made it even more difficult; we climbed in -15 degrees Celsius. Water supply was problematic as bladders and water bottles froze. The mountain made me delusional and played with my mind. I felt like I turned into a machine, focusing solely on reaching the top.
Every step was an effort, and exhaustion was overwhelming. The challenges were compounded by freezing temperatures and physical discomfort. At times, I felt like giving up, but I pushed through with the support of my fellow climbers and guides. The mental struggle was as intense as the physical one, with negative thoughts and doubts constantly surfacing.
Finding Strength in Unexpected Ways
Yet, amidst the hardships, I found strength in unexpected places. I sang ‘O Heer my God,’ an Afrikaans Christian song, to keep myself going. I wanted to meet God and my late dad at the top. I felt vulnerable and ready to face death. I believed that standing next to my dad was all I wanted. This realisation was profound; I had been grieving and longing for this reunion ever since my dad passed away.
As I continued the ascent, I realised that my preparation for death had been subconscious. I had even written a testament, detailing what should happen if I died on Kilimanjaro. I was ready to meet death and believed it would be a release from the pain I was carrying.
In the midst of these challenges, I discovered the importance of writing down thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, and disappointments. Putting pen to paper had a therapeutic effect, leading me to understand the significance of capturing moments and emotions.
Climbing Kilimanjaro also taught me to be present and value the small blessings in life. Every day on the mountain was a new opportunity for growth and learning. The journey was tough, but it changed me, shattered my ego, and brought me closer to the core of my existence.
As the ascent continued, the terrain became even more treacherous. Snow, rocks, ice, and gravel made the path extremely slippery and dangerous. This mirrored life’s challenges – when you take the road less travelled, it can be lonely, hard, and confusing. But the struggle is essential for growth.
There were moments of uncertainty when we lost the trail, and our guides and porters helped us navigate through the snow and ice. The mountain was a true test of physical and mental strength, pushing us to our limits. Yet, it also showed us the power of resilience and determination.
I pushed through exhaustion, ignoring discomfort and embracing a new level of vulnerability. The higher I climbed, the more demanding it became. It was a constant uphill battle, both physically and mentally. But every step was a testament to my determination, and I found a strength within me that I never knew existed.
The sun’s rays breaking through the darkness marked a new day and renewed energy. I realised that every day comes with its blessings, and every day is an opportunity to start fresh. This was a valuable lesson – no matter how challenging life gets, there’s always a chance for renewal.
At Stella Point, one of the highest points, we took a brief break. Our guide provided hot ginger tea to warm us up and energise us for the final stretch. The team’s support was crucial, and even in the harshest conditions, there was a sense of camaraderie.
But the journey was far from over. The path to Uhuru Peak was covered in snow and slippery ice. My body was physically exhausted, and mentally, I reached a breaking point. I experienced moments of delirium and even a brief loss of consciousness. Yet, something kept me going – a deep will to survive and achieve my goal.
Reaching the Summit
My mountain buddy and I were among the first to reach Uhuru Peak. Our emotions were complex – a mix of relief, exhaustion, and accomplishment. It was a moment of unity as the rest of our KILICRAZY team joined us. We had each faced our individual challenges, yet we were united by the experience.
Standing at the peak, I realised that success isn’t just about reaching the summit – it’s about the journey, the growth, and the transformation that occurs along the way. I had shed my ego, faced my fears, and found a new sense of purpose. The journey had changed me, and I knew that I would never be the same again.
The descent from Uhuru Peak was a mix of emotions. As we descended, I reflected on the journey that had brought us to this point. I was reminded of the lessons I had learned on the mountain – about pushing through challenges, embracing vulnerability, and finding strength within myself.
Looking back, I realised that the mountain had broken me down in ways I never thought possible. It had stripped away my ego, my preconceptions, and my limitations. But in that breaking down, I found the opportunity for renewal and growth.
The descent was physically demanding, and the tiredness settled in. But as we made our way down, I felt a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I had faced the mountain’s challenges head-on and emerged stronger on the other side.
As I descended, I thought about the people who had supported me throughout this journey. Our guides, porters, and fellow climbers had been a source of strength and encouragement. It was a reminder that we don’t achieve our goals alone – we are surrounded by a network of people who lift us up and help us succeed.
Reaching base camp again was a moment of pure relief. The journey had been gruelling, but it had also been transformative. I had faced my fears, confronted my vulnerabilities, and discovered a reservoir of strength deep within me.
Comfort Zones and Reflection
Back in the comfort of everyday life, I carried the lessons of Kilimanjaro with me. I now understand that growth comes from stepping outside of our comfort zones, embracing challenges, and pushing ourselves beyond what we think is possible.
The journey up Kilimanjaro had been a metaphor for life itself. We all have our own mountains to climb – challenges, goals, and dreams that push us to our limits. And just like on the mountain, our attitude and determination play a crucial role in our success.
Reflecting on my journey, I realised that the mountain had given me what I needed, not necessarily what I had asked for. It had broken me down to build me back up stronger, more resilient, and more determined than ever.
In the end, Kilimanjaro taught me that the journey is just as important as the destination. It showed me the power of pushing through, the value of teamwork, and the strength of the human spirit.
As I returned to my everyday life, I carried with me a newfound sense of purpose and perspective. I knew that no matter what challenges I faced, I had the strength within me to overcome them. And I understood that growth and transformation are lifelong journeys – just like climbing a mountain.
Andrea’s journey up Kilimanjaro and back resonates with the core values of MIWA: embracing challenges, finding strength in vulnerability, and evolving through experience. Her story reminds us that life’s greatest lessons often lie beyond our comfort zones, waiting for us to uncover them. Andrea’s story is a treasure trove of insights and life lessons that can inspire and motivate us to approach our own challenges with courage, resilience, and a sense of purpose.
Thank you for sharing it with us, Andrea.