Five Lebanese bankers reach Kilimanjaro peak to raise money for IMC UK Lebanon school project

October 8, 2007 at 10:08 pm 1 comment

LONDON: On Wednesday 26th September, following five days of intense trekking, the Kilimanjaro for Lebanon team endured a gruelling seven-hour hike in freezing temperatures and total darkness in order to finally reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro – accompanied by ZARA guides, porters and cooks. Arriving at 6.30am local time, the team were able to watch the sunrise over Africa as they planted the Lebanese flag on the 5895m peak in honour of their quest. They were also able to successfully complete a financial transaction on the Lebanese stock exchange achieving their goal of setting a record for the highest such transaction on earth.

The Lebanese bankers, all volunteers’ members of the London based “Lebanon United” group, an organisation that raises money and promotes awareness on humanitarian and sustainable development initiatives in Lebanon, successfully scaled Mount Kilimanjaro to raise £200,000 to develop and implement child-friendly initiatives in the fields of education and mental and psychological Health in the most deprived regions in Lebanon. The money is earmarked to rehabilitate 29 schools across Lebanon improving the physical conditions of schooling, the quality of teaching, and the social support provided to the schools and their communities.

The UNICEF supported project of £1.57 million will be implemented by International Medical Corps UK (IMC UK), an international NGO based in Lebanon since war broke out in 2006.

A recent IMC UK assessment in Lebanon revealed a high rate of aggression and attention deficiency syndromes among students; along with a significant drop out rates following the summer 2006 war. Among many factors inhibiting learning and child development, are teaching and administration methods, poor physical condition of schools and limited communication between parents and teachers, all of which will be addressed in this project.

The team: Hani Al-Omari, Salim Al-Halabi, Mouhammed Choukeir, Kheiry Sammakieh, and Seif Sammakieh are all bankers working in the financial markets. The climbers successfully planted the Lebanese flag on the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro and, at 19,340 feet (5,895 metres) set a record by carrying out the first ever financial transaction from this height on the Lebanese Stock Exchange, carried out by Bank of Beirut and the Arab Countries (B.B.A.C). The team followed the Machame route, the longest and one of the most strenuous, taking six days to reach the top. They faced many challenges, including the risk of dehydration, hypothermia and altitude sickness as they made their way through five ecosystems, with temperatures ranging from 30 degrees centigrade at the foot to minus 20 degrees at the peak, along with a 50% drop in oxygen levels at the summit.

One of the climbers commented: “Well we made it! It was the greatest challenge of our lives, but we persevered and conquered the beast famous for its beauty as well as its difficulty. We were beyond euphoric planting the Lebanese flag on top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Just knowing that our achievement will benefit so many children through the IMC UK Lebanon schools project makes the arduous trek all worthwhile. And of course nothing can describe the feeling of setting a new world record! We never could have got this far without the tireless help of our base camp team, Dyana Najdi and Souraya Ali. They should be fully credited for all the time and effort they have put into this project. They have been our night in shining armour on this climb and we would have never made it to the Peak without their relentless support throughout the climb.”

The email from the climbers to ZARA sounds enthusiastic: “The climb was amazing, the experience was awesome, Photo is by far the best guide on the entire mountain!!! Khamisi his Assistant guide was sensational also and we would have never made it if it were’nt for them. His whole crew that he chose on this trip was amazing from the cook, to the weighters to the porters – all brilliant and no problems whatsoever… Again, I cannot emphasise enough how great the service was from start to finish. We’re very happy and I will gladly recommend Zara in future for anyone wanting to do Kili : )”

The climbers’ belief that early education is a key to safeguarding an open and prosperous Lebanon was their motivation for participating in Lebanon United’s most ambitious fundraising event to date.

Peter Medway, Director of Operations at IMC UK thanked the climbers for their support, “On behalf of IMC UK, I would like to thank the climbers for completing such a feat for our schools project. It was a tremendous achievement and we are so grateful to them for taking on the challenge to not only raise money for our project but to also break a world record – congratulations! “

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Amer  |  December 10, 2008 at 12:24 am

    A great noble deed.

    Proud to be Lebanese.

    Reply

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