Qatari youth to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise funds for Gaza

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In seven weeks, 12 young Qataris will take on the challenge of climbing to the top of the world’s tallest freestanding mountain in a bid to raise money for Gaza.

The young people will journey to Tanzania in Africa in October to climb some 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) to the highest summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

The point of the expedition, called Elevate to Educate, is to raise funds to improve Gaza’s education system. The aim is to make QR1 million in donations by Oct. 1. All donations will be spent on improving and rebuilding schools.

Elevate to Educate is being led by Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Thani, who last year became the first Qatari to climb and raise Qatar’s flag at Mount Everest’s peak.

Al Thani has dedicated a number of personal climbs to raising money for charitable causes, but this is the first time he has organized a group campaign for charity.

The fundraising is being done with Qatar-based charity Reach Out to Asia (ROTA) through their “My Education… My Hope” campaign. ROTA has been active in Palestine since 2007, and through this climb, aims to help build and revamp 22 schools in the Gaza Strip.

The climb

Fabio Bretto/Flickr

The six female, six male climbers and two assistants will be in Tanzania from Oct. 2 until Oct. 12.

They are: Mohammed Fakhro, Yacoub Yousef Al Yacoub, Shaima Sherif, Nasser Al Naama, Aisha Al Naama, Mohammed Al Naama, Bashaer Al Mulla, Dana Al Anzy, Nasser Bin Marzook, Asma Al Thani, Noor Al Thani, Bader Al Madani, Raed Zidan and Masoud Kalafchi.

Climbers will summit Mount Kilamajaro within five days, allowing themselves two days to then climb back down. The final days of the trip will be spent learning about Tanzania’s culture through various cultural excursions, including a safari trip, one of the partakers has said.

In order to physically and mentally prepare for the challenge, each climber has been provided with information about the hike and a training guide.

Most of the training is being done on an individual basis, as many people involved are on summer vacation. But frequent discussions about the best way to gear up for the climb have been taking place through social media forums, according to one of the climbers.

Speaking to Doha News, 26 year-old Mohammed Fakhro said that he is satisfied with ongoing preparations:

“We have Mohammed Al Thani and two additional professional climbers joining us. They have been more than helpful in serving as our guides to training, gear and everything else you can imagine. It’s certainly a privilege to be doing this for the first time while having access to this much climbing knowledge and care.”

Fakhro, who is blogging about his training, added that he and some of his fellow participants have taken up circuit training at Aspire Park. In his first Vlog, he said donations have motivated him to keep working out:

“I feel like my body does not really belong to me anymore. I cannot have junk food, I cannot have ice cream, I cannot slack off, I cannot take a day off. Your donations mean I need to get up there, no matter what it takes.”

There are also plans afoot to organize a group training session at the sand dunes, where competitions will be held to see who can climb up and down the dunes the most, and who can do it in the fastest time.

Donations

In order to raise the target amount of QR1 million, climbers must work together, with each climber raising a minimum of QR50,000. Donations from sponsors will also add to the running total to help achieve the overall target.

So far, the campaign has managed to achieve 23 percent of the overall target, although it has been mentioned that the website needs updating.

Stig Nygaard/Flickr

Speaking to Doha News, Fakhro said that the climb is not only a fight for the right to education, but also a battle against one’s own self.

He said that the challenge seemed ideal to him, as the 10-day experience is a combination of his life passions – communal service, travel and experiencing other cultures:

“Having lived a life of privilege, I try to commit to critically examining how I live my life, how my choices affect others and most importantly how I can leave a positive impact in my community.  Simply put, I hope to be a better human to other humans.

Kilimanjaro itself has been a dream of mine for several years now, and to be able to experience it for this cause is an absolute joy.  It feels like it brought back a piece of my life that’s been missing for a while.  I’ve been excited to learn about Tanzania, its culture and politics, and of course Kilimanjaro itself.”

Signing up to the challenge has also encouraged Fakhro to better his knowledge on the history of Palestine and become more involved within the Palestininan community:

“I’ve committed time to meeting with ROTA to learn about their project and work in Palestine more extensively.  I’ve combined this with readings on the state of education in Palestine and learning about the occupation itself as I was admittedly less than educated about it.  This side has certainly had its challenges too, but has already reaped a lot of rewards.”

So far, Fakhro has managed to raise a total of QR153,800 – already surpassing the individual target by some QR100,000. With a month and a half to go until donations close, Fakhro has set a new personal target of QR250,000.

He said the public has been overly-generous in their donations since the fundraiser launched in Ramadan, donating far more money that he ever expected. But other climbers are still in need of funds, which can be donated via JustGiving on Educate to Elevate’s website here.

To track Fakhro’s progress, follow his updates on Twitter, Youtube and Instagram. More information about the climb is expected to be released next week.

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