Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Climbing to save lives
Doctors, volunteers and supporters of Israel-based humanitarian organisation Save a Child’s Heart habe reached the summit of Africa’s highest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro, in an effort to raise $1 million which will save the lives of 100 African children in desperate need of heart surgery. They were partly funded by the Australian Pratt Foundation.
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The twelve climbers, from the United States, Canada, Israel, Ethiopia, and South Africa reached the peak of 19, 345 feet after 6 days of hiking through rainforest, moorland, semi desert, alpine desert and arctic terrain.
“The climbers arrived from different countries, speak different languages and are various ages, but they all share the same goal: to save the lives of children in Africa,” says Emma Hacohen, Project Coordinator of Climb Your Heart Out: Mount Kilimanjaro 2011.
“I have never felt more empowered,” says Simon Fisher, Executive Director of Save a Child’s Heart. “Watching the Save a Child’s Heart medical team perform the first ever pediatric open heart surgery in Mwanza Tanzania and then climbing Mt Kilimanjaro with the full awareness that this is going to lead to 100 more children’s lives being saved – I guess you could say nothing has ever felt this important.”
Prior to the climb, 13 pediatric heart surgeries were performed in Mwanza Tanzania by the Save a Child’s Heart medical team, as well as the first ever pediatric open heart surgery. Approximately 300 children were examined by the SACH doctors.
Those children who need heart surgery but did not receive it during the mission will be flown to Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel with all expenses paid by Save a Child’s Heart.
Each climber committed to raising a minimum of 10,000 dollars, the cost of saving the life of one child. The rest of the funds are being raised through generous donations made by supporters of Save a Child’s Heart.
“It was a humbling and exhilarating experience,” says Emma Hacohen. “At the bottom of the mountain it seemed insurmountable- but taking it one day at a time, slowly, carefully, I sensed we were conquering it. I guess it’s quite similar to what we are doing at Save a Child’s Heart. Saving children with heart disease in Africa also seems insurmountable. But one heart at a time we are making a difference.”
About Save a Child’s Heart: Save a Child’s Heart is an Israel based international humanitarian project providing life-saving heart surgery and follow-up care for children from developing countries, including Africa, Iraq, the West Bank and Gaza. Last month Save a Child’s Heart received UN special status on the ECOSOC committee and it is now an official UN NGO.
Since its inception in 1996, the Save a Child’s Heart medical team treated over 2,700 children from 42 countries and has examined and evaluated more than 6,000 children.
A spokesman told J-Wire that the Pratt Foundation had donated $100,000 towards the costs.
The aim of the organization is to provide life-saving heart surgery and follow-up care for children from Africa, Iraq, the West Bank and Gaza.