Palestinian refugee-amputee climbs Mount Everest to save UNRWA school

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Palestinian refugee Jarah Al-Hawamdeh at the Mount Everest base camp this week. (Courtesy Jarah Al-Hawamdeh)
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Palestinian refugee Jarah Al-Hawamdeh at the Mount Everest base camp this week. (Courtesy Jarah Al-Hawamdeh)
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Palestinian amputee and climber Jarah Al-Hawamdeh takes a rest after 10 hours of climbing towards the Mount Everest base camp. (Courtesy Jarah Al-Hawamdeh)
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Palestinian refugee Jarah Al-Hawamdeh is climbing the Mount Everest base camp to raise funds for his UNRWA-run school. (Courtesy Jarah Al-Hawamdeh)
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Palestinian amputee Jarah Al-Hawamdeh takes the first of the estimated 17,500 steps to the Mount Everest base camp. (Courtesy Jarah Al-Hawamdeh)
Updated 18 April 2018
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Palestinian refugee-amputee climbs Mount Everest to save UNRWA school

DUBAI: Palestinian refugee Jarah Al-Hawamdeh’s dream to become a mountaineer was temporarily sidelined when, at aged 15, he lost his right leg after being diagnosed with bone cancer.
But Jarah, one of six children born to refugee parents at Al-Jofeh in Jordan’s South Amman, has decided to allow this setback to ruin his life and was determined to turn his situation around.
While undergoing cancer treatment at the King Hussein Cancer Centre in Amman, Jarah continued to attend the UNRWA Al-Jofeh Boys School as often as he could. His determination was noticed by the school administration, so his class was moved to the ground floor so he could join in. A bathroom was also modified to fit his wheelchair.
Two years after he lost his leg, Jarah had become an accomplished climber and was the first Palestine refugee climber with an artificial limb. In 2015, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with a message of hope for cancer patients that: “nothing is impossible”.
“It gave me the opportunity to be anything I wanted. It made me special,” according to Jarah. “Not everyone has one leg, and I am using my story to show the world that even if you are facing problems you can overcome them.”
“I wanted to make a strong statement. To be a climber you need to push yourself a lot. Not everybody can be a mountaineer. Let alone someone with one leg.”
And now Jarah has taken on a new challenge, but with a nobler purpose: climbing to the Mount Everest base camp to raise $1 million to keep his beloved school open, and whose mission was reported by UNRWA.


“The Al-Jofeh UNRWA School, which I attended for 10 years, is facing closure due to a drastic 83 percent cut in funding,” Jorah said, to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees that has been running the school.
Jarah’s mission to keep his school open started on April 3 and after an estimated 17,500 steps later, on April 14, he has reached the Mount Everest base camp. His fundraiser website, meanwhile has managed to raised $26,200 so far.
“#MyFirstStep to keep my school open began April 3, and 17,500 steps later on April 14, I finally reached Mt Everest Base Camp (5364 m)! I have done my part, now do yours,” Jarah said on Twitter.
Jarah, however, remains stranded at base camp due to a -30C snow storm and nearby avalances, which could make the climb back down dangerous.
“Once Jarah has internet access again, he will send videos and photos to keep us updated on his journey,” an update from Jarah’s support team posted on his fundraiser website.

Watch a video of Jarah Al-Hawamdeh on his #MyFirstStep to Mount Everest:


Children’s author Judith Kerr, who wrote ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’, dies

Updated 23 May 2019
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Children’s author Judith Kerr, who wrote ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’, dies

  • Kerr's family fled Germany as the Nazi's rose to power
  • She based the characters on animals she had seen in real life

LONDON: British writer and illustrator Judith Kerr, whose death at 95 was announced on Thursday, captivated young readers around the world with her tales of a fluffy tiger coming to tea, a trouble-prone cat and her own family's flight from Nazi Germany.
With curly hair and a mischievous smile, the petite Kerr worked well into her 90s, saying she even picked up the pace in old age, drawing inspiration from events in her own life to become one of Britain's best-loved children's authors.
Kerr was born in Berlin on June 14, 1923, fleeing Germany 10 years later after a policeman tipped off her father Alfred Kerr, a prominent Jewish writer, that the family was in danger from the rising Nazi power.
"My father was ill in bed with flu and this man rang up and said: 'They are trying to take away your passport, you must get out immediately'," she recalled in an interview with AFP in June 2018.
He took the first train to Switzerland and his wife and two children soon joined him. A day after their escape, the Nazis took power.
The family moved on to Paris before settling in London in 1936.
This story is loosely recounted from a child's perspective in Kerr's semi-autobiographical novel "When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit" (1971) in which the fleeing girl can only take one toy and so leaves behind a favourite rabbit.
Kerr, who started drawing at a young age, credited the success of the book with being "published at a time when the Germans hadn't really managed to talk to their children about the past".
But she is better known for "The Tiger Who Came to Tea", released in 1968 to become a global classic of children's literature, with at least five million copies sold and published in more than 30 languages.
Kerr's first picture book, it tells of a girl and her mother interrupted at teatime by a huge, fluffy tiger who eats everything in sight before leaving again.
She was able to write up the story -- a bedtime favourite of her young daughter -- while her husband was at work and their two children at school.
The fictional family mirrors her own at the time, the illustrations featuring the yellow and white kitchen cupboards of their London home.
Kerr used tigers at a London zoo as models for her feline creation.
Next was "Mog the Forgetful Cat" (1970), the first in what became a 17-book series about the antics of a mischievous, egg-loving moggy inspired by her own pet.
"Goodbye Mog" (2002) was meant to be the last offering -- broaching the subject of death with the much-loved cat departing for heaven. But supermarket chain Sainsbury's persuaded Kerr to produce one more in 2015: "Mog's Christmas Calamity".
Proceeds of the last book were for Save the Children's work on child literacy, and a TV advert was the first to feature Mog in animation with Kerr herself also making a cameo appearance.
In her illustrated story "My Henry" (2011) -- for children and adults -- an elderly lady fantasises about adventures with her late husband, such as climbing Mount Everest, hunting lions, and riding dinosaurs.
Kerr dedicated the book to her husband Thomas Nigel Kneale, a respected screenwriter who died in 2006. The couple met at the BBC, where they both worked, and married in 1954.
Commenting on the book in 2011, The Telegraph wrote: "For all the depth of underlying emotion, there's a celebratory feel to it, an unfeigned lightness of spirit that, throughout her life, has been a great boon.
"It has helped her cope with widowhood just as it allowed her to get over the loss, exile, penury and frustration of her early life."
In 2012 Kerr was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to children's literature and Holocaust education.