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International group of 24 people before climbing mount Kilimanjaro

Photo from jtfe.org

In September 2018 an international group of 24 people climbed mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness of the issues faced by people with albinism in Africa. Hugo and Lisa, two Dutch people with albinism (Oogvereniging Albinisme), joined them on this journey.

Climbing mount Kilimanjaro The climbers
The Josephat Torner Foundation Europe (JTFE) enabled this awareness project. Josephat Torner, a Tanzanian activist with albinism, climbed mount Kilimanjaro together with us. Seven of the twenty-four climbers had albinism. Most of the climbers were Dutch, two were Finnish and five climbers were from different African countries, including Josephat Torner himself. A Tanzanian film crew and a journalist from ITV joined us. They are making a short movie and a documentary about the climb.

Superstition
In the Netherlands and the rest of Europe people with albinism face some issues. But we definitely can’t compare those with the problems people with albinism in Africa are confronted with. In parts of Africa, people with albinism are being hunted and killed because of the superstition that owning a body part of someone with albinism brings luck and wealth.

Our message
To break the silence, we called in the (African) media and collected a lot of money. Our group raised over 50.000 euro’s. This money will be used for the different projects of JTFE with the goal to make Tanzania and the rest of the world a safe and equal place for people with albinism.

Lisa & Hugo having a breakThe start
The journey started when we arrived in Tanzania, Kilimanjaro international airport on the 20st of September. After a very warm welcome by the other African climbers, we reached our hotel for the first night. The next morning a press conference was held.

The mountain
After the press conference and a long drive to the gate, we started the walk, which went right through the rainforest. As darkness fell we reached the first camp at a height of 2.360 meters. Over the next five days we walked through the wonderful landscape of mount Kilimanjaro, which changed more than once a day.

Having BreakfastOne foot in front of the other
Sometimes this was a very big challenge, especially for the climbers with albinism. The sun is very strong (we had to put on a lot of sunscreen!) and it was hard to see all the rocks well. But with all the support of the other climbers, the amazing guides and porters, we felt very strong and motivated each other. Keeping the message in mind was our motivation to put one foot in front of the other. With every step we got closer to the top and closer to our goal.

Summit night
On the afternoon of Wednesday 25th, we reached basecamp. This was the highest point before the last climb to the summit. After dinner and a power-nap we started our final walk to the summit around 11 p.m. It was a dark, snowy, cold (minus 10 degrees!), tough, but amazing 10-hour climb to reach the summit. An incredible feeling took over us. We reached the top of Africa at 5.895 meters and screamed together “Break the Silence”!!!

Break the Silence
After a 2-day downhill trip with rain all day, we returned to our hotel and saw an interview on the evening news. We knew we reached our goal, and we will never forget this experience. This is a start to breaking the silence on albinism in Africa. A very good start and it gives us hope that some day people with albinism will be safe and treated equally anywhere in the world.

Read the article in Dutch: https://www.oogvereniging.nl/groepsnieuws/breaking-the-silence-kilimanjaro-beklimming-voor-albinisme/

Read more on https://www.jtfe.org
Sign the petition to stop the slaughter of people with albinism in Africa: https://www.petitions24.com/emb/169061

The top! Uhuru Peak ( Source: jtfe.org) The top! Uhuru Peak ( Source: jtfe.org)