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.
#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 at https://t.co/b2DrSSfHzv. #ForPalestineRefugees #DignityIsPriceless. #everest #climbing #mountains #unrwa pic.twitter.com/fbDNN65Kyb— Jarah Alhawamdeh (@alhawamdeh26) April 15, 2018
“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: