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.
— The PCRF (@pcrftweets) January 25, 2014
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:
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.”
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.”
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:
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.
— PCRF – SF Bay (@PCRF_SF) January 25, 2014