Three Goshen College grads climbing for a cause

MEDA president leads Kilimanjaro trek to alleviate poverty, create opportunity worldwide

Bethany Ropp Fosdyck
Bethany Ropp Fosdyck on a previous Kilimanjaro climb

WATERLOO, Ontario – Three Goshen College graduates are among a group taking a big hike for charity this summer.

MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) supporters – including Goshen College graduates Tom ’69 and Trinda Bishop ’69 of Greenwood Village, Colorado, and Bethany Ropp Fosdyck ’02 of Peoria, Illinois – have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this summer to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with MEDA president Allan Sauder, to aid MEDA’s work in creating business solutions to poverty around the world.

“I grew up hearing stories about MEDA from my grandfather, Maurice Stahly,” Fosdyck said. “I still keep his photos of MEDA trips throughout the 1970s-1990s. As a new business owner, I pray for guidance to live out his legacy of good business and stewardship.

Hikers from across North America will travel the Lemosho Route through five eco-systems, including rainforest, alpine desert and glaciers, giving them the feeling of hiking from the equator to the North Pole in just 10 days. Unlike Everest, Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb requiring ropes and ladders, so any person in reasonable physical shape with a dose of perseverance can make it. The group, led by expedition company Tusker Trail, includes participants in their 20s to those in their 70s.

“I’m excited to be part of this fundraising climb, which gives our supporters the chance to contribute to our work in a unique way,” says Sauder. “We have set an ambitious goal of raising $250,000.”

Tom and Linda Bishop
Tom and Trinda Bishop

The climbers also will visit MEDA project sites in the country. One of these facilitates the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets to protect against malaria in pregnant women and young children.

“Over the past decade this project has created sustainable commercial distribution channels for nets,” says Sauder. “More than 35 million nets have been put in the hands of Tanzanian families, saving an estimated 200,000 lives. A few of us will also have a chance to visit a new project that is helping farmers develop disease-resistant and disease-free varieties of cassava – a staple crop for poor families.”

While they come from different locations and will bring unique perspectives to the upcoming journey, participants all share one common motivation – MEDA:

“MEDA respectfully empowers, especially women and youth, providing opportunities for improved livelihoods beyond the cultural barriers they normally experience,” said Trinda Bishop. “MEDA offers financial credit, training, monitoring and management methods to help these new entrepreneurs become successful with dignity. Because of resulting financial success they are able to afford an education for their family and the world automatically becomes a better place.”

With just over 10 weeks to go, MEDA has 16 trekkers committed to make this remarkable journey on July 4-17. So far, they have raised more than $82,000. To learn more about the MEDA Kilimanjaro Climb or to sponsor a climber, visit

– Mennonite Economic Development Associates