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Update Video: There are no checkpoints atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, reports climber Abu Karsh

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Yasmeen Najjar and Mutussam Abu Karsh, trekking with Palestine Children’s Relief Fund’s “Climb of Hope”, reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. January 23, 2014 (Photo: PCRF)

I’m in awe. Last week we reported that Mutussam Abu Karsh and Yasmeen El Najjar, two Palestinian teens, both amputees and both wearing prosthetic limbs, were trekking up Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro on an historic trek on the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund’s (PCRF) first ever Climb of Hope led by Palestinian mountaineer Suzanne Al-Houby with a team of trekkers. Fantastically, they reached the summit on Friday.

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Mutussam Abu Karsh and Yasmeen El Najjar Climb of Hope Jan 2014 (Photo: PCRF)

We reached out to Climb of Hope’s team via PCRF when we heard of their amazing accomplishment. Founder and CEO Steve Sosebee, who was on Climb of Hope’s trek team, sent us these photos and a statement from both teens:

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Mutussam Abu Karsh, Sira camp on day three, Climb of Hope Jan 2014 (Photo: PCRF)

 

From Mutussam: “It’s the first time that I have felt truly free, no walls, no borders, no checkpoints and soldiers.  The top of Kilimanjaro is called Uhuru Peak, which in Swahili means “Freedom” and for me, reaching the top gave me as a Palestinian from Gaza the feeling for the first time of complete freedom.”

Yasmeen

PCRF Jordan volunteer Rania Barakat and Yasmeen El Najjar, Climb of Hope. Jan. 2014 (photo: PCRF)

 

From Yasmeen: “I want to show other kids like me that they can do anything that they put their minds to.  There is no obstacle too great or mountain too high that you cannot overcome if you put your mind to it.  I hope that what Mutussam and I did shows that kids can do anything if given the chance, even climb the highest mountains.”

"With the two heroes Yasmeen and Mutussam only hours after getting off the mountain. #climbofhope" (Photo: Screenshot/Steve Sosebee's Instagram)

“With the two heroes Yasmeen and Mutussam only hours after getting off the mountain. #climbofhope”               (Photo: Screenshot/Steve Sosebee’s Instagram)

Sosebee had this to say about these inspiring teens and the goal of the climb:

The courage and determination of Mutussam and Yasmeen represent something that I’ve been seeing in the twenty-plus years of working with injured kids in the Middle East:  They can do anything if given a chance.  The occupation in Palestine and now the wars and turmoil in Syria and other places in the region impact kids more than any other segment of the population.  We hope that this climb will inspire other children in the Middle East to see Yasmeen and Mutussam as positive role models and appreciate that they too can achieve their dreams through hard work and determination.

The goal is to not only raise awareness of the plight of kids like Mutussam and Yasmeen in the Middle East, but also to do something about it.  Already Yasmeen has paid a visit in a hospital in Jordan where an injured 8-year-old girl from Syria, Farah, lays after losing her leg from a bomb.  Yasmeen gives kids like Farah a feeling of hope and a reason to keep living and trying to make something of their lives.  I’ve never seen two more brave, determined or stronger kids than these two.

Look at those beautiful smiles, it melts my heart looking at those happy faces. Something to be really proud of:

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Yasmeen Najjar and Mutussam Abu Karsh, Palestine Children’s Relief Fund’s “Climb of Hope”, after reaching the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. January 23, 2014 (Photo: PCRF)

The goal of Climb of Hope is “to inspire and motivate innocent victims of war and increase awareness towards their plight” as well as raise funds for the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, medical heroes, volunteers from all over the world who provide thousands of children in dire need, otherwise- unavailable surgical procedures, medical care, and rehabilitation.

Yasmeen has paid a visit in a hospital in Jordan where an injured 8-year-old girl from Syria, Farah, lays after losing her leg from a bomb.

Yasmeen El Najjar, Climb of Hope trekker, PCRF recipient and volunteer visits 8 year old Farah from Syria at a hospital in Jordan after Farah lost her leg from a bomb.(photo:PCRF)

Hurrah! Yasmeen gets a lift! Climb of Hope 2013

Hurrah! Yasmeen gets a lift! Climb of Hope 2014

annie
About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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20 Responses

  1. Semiotic Observer
    Semiotic Observer
    January 27, 2014, 6:17 pm

    Lovely! Thanks.

    • annie
      annie
      January 27, 2014, 6:50 pm

      ;) my pleasure, it’s thrilling isn’t it! i cried when i first saw the photos and read those quotes. amazing. thanks for your comment.

      and little farah, she doesn’t look so happy in that photo. but she’s a lucky girl to have pcrf on her side. she’ll be up and around in no time and someday she’ll be able to reach the summit too, just like yasmeen says. thanks to pcrf and their hundreds of amazing volunteers.

  2. AlGhorear
    AlGhorear
    January 27, 2014, 7:33 pm

    Annie, thanks for posting this fabulous story! It’s amazing that Mutussam and Yasmeen made the trek to the top on prosthetic limbs. And I love their statements and the photos. It’s so nice to read a positive story!

  3. bintbiba
    bintbiba
    January 27, 2014, 8:20 pm

    Heartwarming, inspiring!
    Thank you annie.

  4. Danaa
    Danaa
    January 28, 2014, 1:37 am

    It is great to read an uplifting story about young Palestinians. As a once hiking/trekking enthusiast (now reduced to trail biking, walking the cats, and running to airport gates in hopes of may be, may be the doors didn’t close yet), I can certainly appreciate the effort, especially with a disability. Can’t even imagine what it must be like, to not only overcome such a set-back but live to set a spirited example to others. Goes to show you what Palestinians could do – young and not so – if only they had half the chance we all take so for granted in the west.

    I should really make more of an effort to read the positive posts – like this one. Sure helps dispel the clouds of gloom, at least for a while.

    Obviously, the PCRF is doing a great job supporting such commendable efforts. Now, if we could just get J Street to contribute a few shekels to support more worthy endeavors by young people not from their own neighborhood (sorry, couldn’t resist!).

  5. puppies
    puppies
    January 28, 2014, 3:22 am

    The “no checkpoints here” discovery by a kid is heart-wrenching. Thanks for giving PCRF a voice, Annie.

  6. Shuki
    Shuki
    January 28, 2014, 3:26 am

    >>>
    From Yasmeen: “I want to show other kids like me that they can do anything that they put their minds to. There is no obstacle too great or mountain too high that you cannot overcome if you put your mind to it. I hope that what Mutussam and I did shows that kids can do anything if given the chance, even climb the highest mountains.”
    >>>

    Yes, other women from gaza can also do whatever they put their minds to… well, except for a few minor things like walking around in public without their husband.

  7. Zoukinator
    Zoukinator
    January 28, 2014, 7:44 am

    i was so lucky to be part of this awesome experience, no words can describe my happiness and the level of humanity i have reached.
    i am the one holding Yasmeen wearing green buff with Steve.

  8. Talkback
    Talkback
    January 28, 2014, 7:57 am

    There are no checkpoints atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, reports climber Abu Kirsh

    Not yet. Wait until they find a “Jewish connection”.

  9. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    January 28, 2014, 8:54 am

    At > 70 I still try to climb (easy) mountains, but stop at 13,500-feet for altitude, tiredness, and ever-worse legs and knees (my personal check-points). Amazing that kids (who have of course the energy) can do that and much more with artificial legs (I guess it’s legs). Great smiles!

  10. flyod
    flyod
    January 28, 2014, 9:10 am

    hey, thanks for posting this. just fantastic! climbing is all about freedom of movement and it will take you to some of the most amazing places on this planet. congrats to all involved in this.

  11. annie
    annie
    January 28, 2014, 8:07 pm

    thanks flyod! hey, i updated w/great video of them reaching the summit! i urge everyone to watch it because it’s fabulous w/everyone holding the fluttering palestinian flags.

    bintbiba , AlGhorear , danaa, puppies, just, jwp and everyone who commented thank you! i so love this story and it was such an honor working on it. Yasmeen and Mutussam just blow me away, what incredible heroes they are. i also updated the post last night and added a lot of tweets and some photos that were not part of the original, so i hope people get a chance to review it again. it’s such an awesome thing they did. and please tweet it around. thanks!

  12. ritzl
    ritzl
    January 28, 2014, 8:59 pm

    Way to go, young courageous people! :)

    Living at sea level and then being able to climb to 20,000 ft. “Uhuru” is no easy feat. What a great symbol for Palestinian hopes!

    Literally a breath-taking achievement.

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