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The Right to Climb: Egypt Takes Charity to the Next Level

The Right to Climb: Egypt Takes Charity to the Next Level
    written by
    Cairo 360

    An exciting initiative is currently underway in Egypt;
    on September 11th 2010, a team of committed individuals will bring together
    humanitarianism and athletics for the Right to Climb initiative. The mission
    involves a trek to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro; the highest point in Africa,
    with the goal of raising a total of 2 million LE to benefit Egyptian mentally
    challenged community. Each participant must pay his or her own way to join the
    hike, with all proceeds going directly to the cause.

    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
    to get in touch and find out all the details.