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Blog | 08 March 2021

An interview with Saray Khumalo

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We caught up with Scout Ambassador Saray Khumalo to learn about the women who inspire her, the importance of education, and the opportunities and challenges of being a female adventurer.

When did you first discover you were passionate about adventure? 

This all started when I was part of a church youth group called the Pathfinders. Having said that, I was always been inquisitive child.

You were the first Black African woman to climb Everest – which is such a phenomenal achievement. How did you prepare for the new challenges? Is there anything you do to actively help you keep a strong mindset? 

Appreciating today as my time to create an impact keeps me going and the fact that every little bit makes me incrementally strong. Knowing that the summit is always waiting on the other side is also motivation enough

You’re passionate about empowering women and girls through learning – how has your own education shaped you as a woman, and why do you think it's still so important in 2021? 

I see education as an equaliser, a way out of poverty and possibly unnecessary abuse that women face sometimes. An educated woman contributes to their family and educates the next generation creating a better community, country and continent.

How does your role at Scouts fit into that passion? What motivates and inspires you in your role as Ambassador? 

This is one of the ways that I share my experience with the next generation and contribute to making my world a little better than I found it.

Do you have any advice on how to find and pursue a passion in adventure?

Stay true to self, continue learning from all positive and negative experiences, appreciate partnerships and more importantly never give up.

 Are there any challenges/barriers you think women of colour face in sport and adventure? How have you dealt with these throughout your career? 

Absence of representation in adventure and support from outdoor brands and other sponsors. I continue to make personal sacrifices for my passion and hope that the world joins in when ready. I work extra hard and focus on what I can change and how I react to other people’ view of me.

Similarly, are there any advantages, or things you particularly love about being a woman in the adventure space? 

Unchartered waters, an opportunity to represent not only women but people that look like me. More importantly the knowledge that my small steps will one day inspire other to do better and achieve excellence

Which women have inspired you most throughout your life? Who continues to inspire you today? 

My mother who was an immigrate but raised 7 girls on her own. My grandmother who preached and lived a life of service. Cathy O’Dowd who is South African and the first woman to summit Everest from both the South and North side

What’s the most beautiful sight you’ve ever woken up to?

Not sure that I woke up to it but rather walking in the night through the death zone on Everest in 2017, I remember looking up and being mesmerised by the stars and moon that seemed so close as if they were fruits in a tree that I could just pick as I walked towards the summit.

What do you always carry in your adventure kit, no matter where you’re going?

Bible and my vuvuzela.

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