Chef David Bull hoped he might someday get to see one of the water wells he helped build. He didn’t expect to be able to show his only daughter, or to ascend the summit of Africa’s tallest peak alongside her. But this June, Second Bar and Kitchen’s Chef Bull and his daughter Jamison (12) will say good-bye to the rest of their family – wife Fawn and four boys – and embark on Climb for a Cause, an event organized by local nonprofit Water 2 Thrive. Along with others, the pair will tour some of the Tanzanian villages that have received new water wells and then spend a week climbing over 16,000 feet to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We visited with Chef Bull and Jamison recently to learn more about Water 2 Thrive and the upcoming trip.
AFM: How did you learn about Water 2 Thrive?
Chef Bull: As a chef in Austin, we get asked to participate in different organizations, so this was an ask. I discovered that Water 2 Thrive is a wonderful organization, and I’ve been working with them for almost a decade to help raise awareness and raise funds for wells in Africa. Their Chef’s Table Austin event has grown to a pretty large one, and we’ve been raising lots and lots of money. One of the things they do is, whoever has the biggest auction package gets a trip to Africa or a well named after them. So, I had a well named after me and now that Jamison’s older, we can actually go to Africa. We’re not only going to see the impact of fresh water in these villages and climb the mountain, but we’re actually raising $10,000 per climber. And that will go toward building more wells.
Jamison: I’ve heard my dad talk about this and seen him help with a lot of events. And I’ve thought it would be really cool to help raise money and to climb Kilimanjaro. I think it will be hard, but also a great learning experience. Not a lot of kids my age get to do this.
AFM: What are you doing to prepare for the trip?
Chef Bull: We’ve been reading a lot, watching a lot of videos. We’re trying to prepare as much as possible. If I were going with my buddies, that would be one thing, but going with Jamison, it’s amped up the preparation. We like the outdoors, but we’re not hikers, so we’re training and researching all the gear. We’re going hiking tomorrow on a 2- or 3-hour hike, and we’re wearing all the same gear that we would on the mountain. We’ll be with a group of about eight or 10 people through an excursion company. They set camp, and they do the cooking. I feel good about it, because the people we’re going with have done it before.
We’ll go through all four climates, hence the challenge. Literally, it’s from 80 degrees to 10 degrees, from rainforest through plateau to snow. We’ll have to bring about four or five layers, and we’re figuring out how to pack for that and how heavy it is, plus the amount of water to bring. This is a seven-day climb, seven days of ascent and one day down. You hike for anywhere from three to seven hours per day and then you camp. You have to prepare for the weather and the altitude. We’re getting shots — they’re not required, but they’re recommended. And we’ll probably take Diamox, just to be safe, for the altitude.
AFM: What does it mean to you have this adventure together?
Chef Bull: My job doesn’t allow me to be home very often, and as a middle child, either Jamison’s older brothers or her younger brother have gotten the attention. So, I’m looking forward to having some one-on-one time with my daughter, not having any distractions. I’m looking forward to detaching and unplugging for a little bit, having some conversations. I hope this will be a life-changing experience for her to look back to for the rest of her life.
Jamison: He is at work a lot, but whenever he’s home, we all go outside and play or something. He’s really fun. When I’m with him in Africa, it’ll be just me and him.
AFM: How is the fundraising going?
Chef Bull: Not bad. We’ve got about $2,500 out of the $10,000. We’ve had an individual agree to cover the balance of whatever we don’t raise. That’s really cool, because every $10,000 builds a well. But we’re going to keep pushing for the next four or five weeks and see how much money we can raise.
AFM: Anything you’d like to add?
Chef Bull: I just feel blessed to have this opportunity to participate. The fact that this organization exists and we get to help raise awareness and bring water to people who have never had clean water is really the core motivation. It just so happens that we can be the benefactors and enjoy some time together as father and daughter. It really is a blessing for us. We’re just happy and nervous and scared and excited. Daddy has to make sure he’s got his stuff together so Jamie is taken care of. It’s a big deal.
By Sherida Mock