A team of 12 young Qataris and expat residents has successfully scaled the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, with the female members becoming the country’s first women to reach the top of the world’s tallest free-standing mountain.
Describing minor injuries, an arduous overnight final climb during a storm, one of the six women in the group said they overcame “mental, physical and emotional struggles” to make the 5,895 meter (19,341 feet) climb.
The climbers scaled the mountain to raise money for charity under Reach out to Asia (ROTA)’s Elevate to Educate expedition. They hope to raise QR1 million in funds to boost Gaza’s education system by rebuilding and improving schools.
The team was 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 and has twice climbed the summit of Kilimanjaro, in 2010 and again in 2011.
This is the first time the experienced climber has organized a group campaign for charity.
The climbers, plus two assistants, set out on the expedition on Oct. 2.
They are Mohammed Fakhro, Yacoub Yousef Al Yacoub, Mariam Hassan Al Thani, 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. Yazan Abughaida, a Palestinian, also signed up at the last minute and scaled the mountain.
In a voice message posted on his blog on October 8, Al Thani said that the whole team had successfully completed the challenge, walking overnight to reach the summit, before descending to rest at a camp at 3,800 meters.
“We left camp at 11:30pm to go to the summit. It was a clear day, although cold. It was a bit uncomfortable for a few of the climbers.
We had 100 percent success rate. Everyone made it up and down safely… everyone is tired after a long day,” Al Thani added.
Dana Al Anzy, a member of ROTA’s Youth Advisory board and an undergraduate student at Georgetown University SFSQ, was one of the six women to complete the challenge.
In an Instagram message posted yesterday, she described some of the trials she and her teammates faced:
“Qatar’s women have made it to the top of Africa. After 7 days of mental, physical and emotional struggles varying between missing my family during Eid, twisting my wrist on the second day of the climb and being oxygenated for lacking oxygen at 4600 meters – Your prayers and support kept me going at -15 degrees on the 7 hour climb over a stormy night up to the summit.
Whenever the voice in my head whispered to go back, I remembered this support system ❤️ I hope I have done you all proud.”
On Friday, group member Mohammed Fakhro also used the social networking site to include a photo of him reaching the peak, and to announce the team’s success, saying, “Got to the summit of Kilimanjaro & back safely. Back to Doha in 2 days with photos from the top of Africa.”
Before setting off, the team had planned to spend five days climbing to the summit and two days descending, before spending the last days of the trip learning about Tanzania’s culture through various cultural excursions, including a safari trip.
Organized through ROTA’s “My Education… My Hope” campaign, the funds raised through the expedition will go towards building and revamping 22 schools in the Gaza strip.
In a Facebook post today, Abughaida said:
“Final amount raised on my campaign: $15,015 or QR54,804. The Elevate to Educate team collectively raised over 2 million QR to build and supply schools in Gaza. Thank you for your donations and support.”
In August, Fakro spoke to Doha News while the team was in training for the challenge. In a video blog about his training, he thanked people for making generous contributions that kept up his motivation and focus:
“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.”
He added that climbing Kilimanjaro had been a personal ambition for many years. He told Doha News he hoped that the challenge would also improve him as a person.
“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.”
Ahead of the trip, Al Anzy described why she was undertaking the challenge. The Peninsula reports her as saying she hoped it would “motivate other women to pursue their dreams and ambitions, regardless of the obstacles and battles they face in our society.”
“I want to promote the culture of social responsibility across borders and allow people’s horizons to expand beyond the limits of what surrounds them,” she added.
You can still donate on the team’s Just Giving webpage Just Giving website here.
Note: This article has been corrected to reflect the updated roster of climbers