Catching-Up with Pro-Climber Paige Claassen
Paige Claassen has graciously allowed herself to be known as a friend of Solid Rock by being listed on our elite and renowned climbers page since 2011. (Read the interview from the original post).
Much has transpired in her life since she was directly involved with SRCFC by way of a trip to Cuba in 2013 (see the SRCFC Climbing in Cuba video that features her). Since then, she has spearheaded the Lead Now Tour and gotten married, among many other things. We appreciate her answering a few questions for Solid Rock.
Your athlete page on Facebook lists you as Paige Claassen, but your personal page lists you as Paige de Kock. What’s the deal with that?
My husband Arjan and I married in May of 2016 so de Kock is now my legal name. Arjan is from South Africa, so we split our time between South Africa and Colorado. I could never have imagined God would lead me to where I am now. I traveled to South Africa in April of 2014 on family vacation to visit my brother who was studying abroad in Cape Town. Arjan was the only climber I knew of in the area, and I wanted to climb while on vacation, so we made plans to go bouldering. Climbing turned into dinner, and 3 months later he flew to the US to visit me – I guess the rest is history! All my climbing stuff is still under Paige Claassen, for simplicity.
What do you see for yourself over the next few years?
I’m excited to continue to push myself as a climber. I have a few unfinished projects I’d like to complete, as well as life list routes around the world that I’d love to try. I’ll continue to expand my NGO, Southern Africa Education Fund, and learn about the new cultures I live in. Arjan and I want to have kids at some point, but we still have lots of traveling and projecting to do first.
You have started a USA based non-profit called the Southern Africa Education Fund What is its purpose and what is your role with it?
I started SAEF after seeing the lack of quality education available in the regions where we farm (Arjan’s family farms table grapes in South Africa and Namibia). I believe in supporting causes close to home, and we will live in Namibia for every November and December for the foreseeable future, so I wanted to do what I could to support the community there. It’s extremely remote, so there isn’t involvement from other NGOs. The local farms do a lot to help the people, but there’s still so much to be done, and it requires financial support that doesn’t currently exist. Living conditions are harsh – people live in reed shacks in 120+ degree conditions with brutal dust storms. They choose to work here because wages are higher, but education is the only opportunity out of poverty for their children.
SAEF works to improve the quality of education, upgrade schools, help teachers access training, and encourage families to support their children’s educational pursuits.
On the SAEF’s website under “Take Action,” it’s listed that one way to stay involved is to pray. Why is prayer so important to do and what specifically could folks be praying?
Every person and every initiative needs a support system. Prayer is that support system. Supporters can pray for safety for our kids, for encouragement for families who might see education as a burden rather than a necessity and a path of opportunity, and for guidance for our organization. I pray that God is guiding me along the path He has chosen for me to help people in the way that they need help, not in the way I think they need help.
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