Headed by Egyptian adventure travel company Wild Guanabana, the event donates all proceeds to the Right to Live Association (RTLA), the largest and longest-running non-profit in Egypt that is dedicated to providing care for mentally challenged individuals.
The Right to Climb initiative introduces some new concepts to Egypt's charitable enterprises: first of all, it combines travel with athletics and charity, which are not usually interrelated. Secondly, the initiative requires that all participants pay their own costs; each raising 20,000LE. The aim is to deepen the participant’s sense of social responsibility, promote this important cause and also raise awareness and support.
The project’s Platinum Sponsor is As-Salam International Hospital, with media sponsors Nile FM Radio, Community Times and Turath, who will be covering the initiative’s progress.
It all began when Wild Guanabana founder Omar Samra, who is the first Egyptian to climb Mt. Everest in 2007, came up with the idea with his friends to organise a climb of Kilimanjaro for a good cause, combining a love for adventure with a need to give back to our community.
Inspired by the commitment and accomplishments of RTLA, the team came up with the concept of the Right to Climb. Samra believes that RTLA is especially important to our society, where the needs and importance of our mentally challenged population are often overlooked. The organisation works hard to educate the general public, and strives to eradicate stigma and prejudice surrounding issues of mental disabilities.
Whereas many organisations only provide care for patients up to the age of 21; RTLA provides care but also assits mentally challenged people over the age of 21 by providing them with comprehensive care, vocational training, and assisted living houses for those whose families are unable to care for them. RTLA also reaches out to their families by educating them on how to provide proper care for children up to six years old, ensuring households are properly equipped and prepared.
Observing that most charity initiatives in Egypt are headed by well-established, multi-national companies, Samra hopes to start a trend where smaller, local companies will launch charity campaigns. The cause is especially close to home for Samra whose two elder sisters are mentally disabled. 'Of course, this is something that is close to my heart,' he says, 'And a cause I felt pulled to,' adding that several fellow climbers have also been inspired to join by encounters with mentally challenged relatives and friends.
He is also keen on combining his passions– travel, the environment and charity– and is optimistic that a link between travel, environment and pressing social causes will catch on. To make this a reality, Wild Guanabana ensures that climbers will eliminate their carbon footprint by contributing the costs of all fuel and emissions to environmental charities, thereby keeping the mission a green and eco-friendly one.
So far, it looks promising; through word of mouth, social media networking and an outpouring of local and international support, the team has grown exponentially since it first hit the social media waves.
Using radio, TV, YouTube channels, Twitter and an SMS campaign to raise awareness, and opening phone lines so that people can call in for support and donations; the initiative has its media bases covered. Potentially, Wild Guanabana will continue to raise money after the climb for those who have missed the event but would still like to contribute. Samra is considering promoting a documentary film of the climb, whose sales will benefit the RTLA. The project got a boost with celebrity and good-will ambassador Youssra endorsing the initiative as the charity’s ambassador. For some well-placed and Cairo-based publicity, Safi of Nile FM has pledged to join the climbers to the top.
'Kilimanjaro is basically one trek,' says Samra 'And requires no previous experience; you don't have to be a super athlete.' The company is well-equipped and does prepare participants for the climb, with nutrition experts and physical trainers on board. The group currently has twenty-two climbers– which exceeds their target goal of twenty climbers– who have pledged to join in the seven-day journey and will undergo three months of training prior to the trek.
If you would like to join Wild Guanabana in the Right to Climb initiative or make a contribution, visit their website to learn more. To make a donation, call the RTC hotline at 2395, 09000 929 or 09000 900.
While the 22-person climbing team fills the quota for the upcoming expedition, support for the initiative has been so overwhelming that Wild Guanabana is planning a future climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro in December 2010. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch and find out all the details.