From July 18 – 23rd Lift4Life hosted 7 time IPF World Champion Kimberly Walford as well as an Outreach Team comprised of 13 other inspiring individuals from all over the world in Zimbabwe. We worked together with the local community in Harare to lift and learn together, and create lasting positive impact.
The trip and powerlifting meet hosted within it would not have been possible without the support of our sponsors Dominos Pizza Canada, Fear Her Fight Athletics, The Strength Guys, A7 Intl, Girls Who Powerlift, Quantum Crossfit, & Shannon Montgomery Law PLLC.
What did we do? Keep reading to hear all about our fun!
Day 1: All the lifters from the 2019 Kim to Zim outreach team travelled from all over the world to meet up in Zimbabwe for a jam-packed week of activities in Harare at the Lift4Life gyms. The first night the team met one another, bonded, as well as preparing for the coming days. And of course everyone got their t-shirts that were designed locally by Vine Designs, as well as from Custom 5 Designs to help them look good and lift good over the coming days.
Day 2: And the Team was off! The Outreach Team’s first stop was to the community of Glen Norah, where Lift4Life first began and where the first gym was donated. Upon arrival, the Team toured the community gym and also travelled to the local welder’s workshop where Lift4Life equipment is made. The Team was inspired meeting the welders and witnessing the hard work put in at the local workshop, and how Lift4Life equipment is made with very minimal resources. Youth lifting was the focus in Glen Norah, and youth came from near and far to learn from Kimberly and the Team about the 3 lifts.
Following lunch with a local family in Glen Norah, the second part of the day was spent in the Lift4Life community gym of High Field, the most recent Lift4Life donated facility. The Team met the community leaders responsible for the success of the space, and learned all about the background of the gym. Kimberly Walford led a powerlifting workshop for the keen attendees, with a more in-depth focus on form, meet expectations, and she shared some of her own training techniques. Following the session and question and answer period, everyone was able to lift together and practice what they had learned. The local community thanked the Outreach Team by providing snacks after the session, and organized for High Field Gym shirts to be made for everyone.
Day 3: The morning consisted of a powerlifting seminar hosted at “The Yard”, an outdoor crossfit gym in Harare. Participants included a number of elite coaches and athletes from the Zimbabwe community, and the seminar included a very formal and intensive presentation by Kimberly where she shared her athletic background, taught the powerlifting movements, as well as discussed programming and coaching. Of course the best part is always putting the lifting learning into action! And everyone had a lot of fun testing out the new equipment at The Yard squatting, benching, and deadlifting.
Later that day The Team made their way to the community of Epworth, where female powerlifting was the primary focus. The community of Epworth has a lot of strong ladies, and the Team heard directly from the community some of the barriers to female lifting, including stereotypes and going to school. Many deep conversations were had, and connecting with and working together with these young female lifters (and also lifting with them) was a huge success!
The day finished off with a delicious meal and bonfire hosted by the Molife family, who manage the Lift4Life gym. The Team also met 16-year-old Juliet Molife, who Lift4Life recently sponsored to compete at the 2019 African Arnolds. She spoke about how powerlifting has and is changing her life, and how she is giving other young women like herself inspiration and motivation to lift and uplift each other through powerlifting. Juliet currently leads local lifting sessions for young girls in her community 3 times a week!
Day 4: The much anticipated powerlifting meet day! The Outreach Team traveled back to the community of Glen Norah to prepare for a big day with the Zimbabwe Powerlifting Federation. Over 30 lifters were registered coming from all across Harare, and there was a huge turnout and tons of support from the local community members. All the lifters came prepared and excited to put into action what was learned from the workshops the days prior.
The Outreach Team worked hard together taking various roles to make the meet run smoothly. Everything from lifter registration, weigh-ins, distributing donated equipment, and conducting volunteer training on spotting and loading.
After warm-ups it was game time! The 30 lifters along with some of the members of the outreach time were ready to take the platform. Kimberly Walford provided the keynote welcome for the meet, and DJ Pride, a local artist from the community was the meet announcer. A generator and music was hired for the competition to get everyone in the powerlifting mood and excited. The hype during deadlifts was insane!
The lifters took the platform and showcased their hard work and strength. Following the meet (and lots of photos!) everyone travelled to a local restaurant to participate in a banquet together. Awards generously made possible by our sponsors were given out for the best lifters. Additionally, scholarship awards were given out to athletes to recognize other areas of their lifting including “most dedicated” “most improved” and “best mentor”.
A very special moment from the banquet and awards ceremony was when Outreach Team member Linda Rousseau presented the Jean Annis Award in memory of her sister. Linda’s sister passed away just prior to the Outreach Trip, and Linda had raised over 300$ to found a scholarship in her name that was given to Juliet to continue her lifting and work within women empowerment.
Day 5: The Outreach Team spent the morning in a school in Epworth, where the next Lift4Life gym is being established. Everyone was greeted by friendly smiling faces waiting to learn more about the sport of powerlifting. But before any lifting, the Team learned more about the school and their mission and were given tours by the teachers and school administrators. Visiting the classrooms the Team had to the opportunity to interact with the students and learn more about their dreams and aspirations, and bond.
Lift4Life partnered with the Restoration Hem Project for the afternoon, a local charity focused on female health and hygiene. The Restoration Hem Project is working to bring girls in Zimbabwe local access to sustainable feminine hygiene solutions by donating re-usable sanitary pads, and the partnership was established in order to reduce identified barriers for female lifters in the community. Lift4Life prides itself in taking a whole community approach to gyms, and believes powerlifting can be an incredible avenue for outreach beyond the barbell as well. This partnership and the success stories that resulted have been a testament to the power of powerlifting.
The team gathered together with over 80 females in the Epworth community at the Lift4Life gym to learn more about the Restoration Hem project and participate in a menstrual health workshop. The workshop ended with donating 60 sanitary kits to young girls in the community to help them manage their cycle.
The last evening was spent bonding and reflecting as a Team, and enjoying a Goodbye Braai (bbq) together. Kimberly, Lexx, Nicola, Audrey, Dre, Mitch, Cassie, Jamila, Gary, Linda, Brittany, Leah, Priscilla, and Sandra all played a special role on the Outreach Team, and Lift4Life is incredibly thankful for their support joining in on the journey and adventure. The next day everyone departed on their separate ways, with 6 Team Members travelling and exploring to other areas of Zimbabwe for a 5-Day Safari.
From sharing knowledge, local employment, increased awareness, building friendships, donating pads and equipment, creating partnerships, providing scholarships and so much more, Lift4Life is incredibly proud of the impact we were able to have as a result of this project and the support we received from it around the world.
Have questions about the trip? Feel free to contact the trip leader and organizer Nicola at nicola@lift4life-worldwide. Due to the success and positive impact of the trip, Lift4Life is anticipating to run another one in 2020. But in the mean time, continue to follow along and check out all the ways to support our cause here.