By Gureni Lukwaro
Meis Al-Kaisi, Assistant Professor of Arabic and Translation at American University of Sharjah (AUS) successfully climbed to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for orphaned
Dr. Al-Kaisi, her sister and two friends made it to Uhuru Peak, the top of Africa standing at 5895 meters above sea level to raise money for Whisper which brings hope and full-filling life and high quality education to orphaned and children in Uganda cared for by "Whisper, The World Orphanage Fund". neglected children of Mutai Village in Uganda.
With a goal of raising GB£20,000 (approximately AED 120,000) for the Ugandan orphans, Dr. Al-Kaisi and her team endured the hardship of the Kilimanjaro so that the children will have a chance to get more chairs, tables, books and other stationeries needed for their education.
“This was the unforgettably unique, once in a lifetime experience that required both physical and psychological strength. Being an active person since young age by always doing sports of various types and due to the additional extensive exercise in preparation for this adventure, I found this climb more psychologically challenging than physically though the physical part should not be underestimated by anyone considering to climb Kilimanjaro,” said Dr. Al-Kaisi.
Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world with almost 50,000 visitors a year attempting to climb it. It ranks amongst the greatest outdoor challenges on the planet. The success rate in climbing the mountain is only between 30-50% depending on the selected route and duration of the climb.
Dr. Al-Kaisi’s team chose to take the Lemosho route, which took the team six days to make it to the top and two days coming down. The route offered the team a picturesque view and the team experienced various ecological systems as well as all four seasons on the route up and down the mountain with temperature varying from +20 to -15 degrees Celsius.
“During the climb, I discovered that I have claustrophobia and fear of the unknown disguised in form of panic attacks and anxiety. I struggled to breathe and to fall asleep in a sleeping bag inside a small tent. However, determined as I was, after three sleepless nights and after being on the verge of collapsing psychologically due to lack of sleep and physical exhaustion, I found a way of dealing with my light claustrophobia,” she added.
So far Dr. Al-Kaisi and her team have managed to raise over £4,000 (AED 24,000) through their online fundraising portal and the fundraising will continue until end of April 2014.
According to Dr. Al-Kaisi, the webportal the team chose to raise the required funds charges no fundraising fees, so all the donations are transmitted in full to the beneficiary. “The way it works is that every Friday, the funds that are collected during the week are transferred to the benefiting organization. So the money we have raised so far have already been sent to Whisper and with the money, they have been able to buy 60 chairs, 20 tables, 2 blackboards, 2 teachers’ desks, 2 teachers’ chairs as well as books and other stationaries.”
“So we hope that people from the AUS community and beyond will be able to make donations to help these orphaned children. If you wish to support this cause, to support Whisper and to support the orphans with a big or small amount of money, there is still time to place your donation through the portal. Your donations, no matter if small or big, are all valuable and will be highly appreciated. Whisper receives 100% of any and every donation and uses it all for the care and education of the orphans.”
Whisper is looking to get more chairs, tables, blackboards and other supplies for the school as well as school uniforms, underwear and pyjamas for the children. Whisper does things as it gets the money step by step. Whisper also has a new one-month old baby who is in need of a huge amount of nappies, which cost £15 (AED 90) per week in Uganda.
Whisper runs two schools in Uganda, Kagoma Gate Nursery School and Whisper International Academy. For more information on Whisper please visit their website.
“I must admit that the experience, overall, was enjoyable. The nature and the views I got exposed to were absolutely gorgeous. I never thought Africa is this green and rich resembling a field of broccoli. The treks were priceless except for the summit climb which lasted for seven and a half hours from 11pm till 6:30am. The high altitude and the freezing cold made this summit night climb truly challenging if not traumatic for some, yet not impossible. I got there right in time for sunrise and I felt ecstatic. Let’s hope that these Ugandan orphans will get the funds needed to get the high quality education they should get,” concluded Dr. Al-Kaisi.
Gureni Lukwaro is a Writer, Editor and Social Media Specialist at the American University of Sharjah.