13 Indians, Israelis with blind climbers, scale Mt. Kilimanjaro
Mumbai : In an unique adventure sports initiative, a group of blind and able-bodied climbers from India and Israel have scaled the world's fourth highest and Africa's tallest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, an organiser said here on Monday.
The climb between September 8-14 was billed as India's first Inclusive Climb. It included two blind climbers from India and one from Israel, besides 10 others, said the founder of Summitting4Hope (S4H) and expedition leader Anusha Subramanian.
"The climb to the 5885-metre high Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world, is another victory of inclusion, which is close to the hearts of S4H and Adventures Beyond Barriers Foundation (ABBF).
"It re-evaluated our rigid views about disability and shattered stereotypes that plague persons with disability," Subramanian, a media professional told news-persons.
She said it is appalling that as a society, we define what 'they can' and 'cannot do', but combating severe fatigue and acute mountain sickness, all the participants successfully summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The inclusive climb included 14-year old Baepi Donio of Israel -- the youngest climber, besides a German teacher, a mother-son duo, two independent filmmakers and six local and three Indian mountain guides in the expedition.
The Pune-based ABBF founder and one of the blind climbers, Divyanshu Ganatra, said that "exclusion is something that persons with disability routinely encounter and with disability, in India, comes 'invisibility'", but the real challenge is to understand despite the differences.
"Mountains and nature or outdoors don't differentiate between anyone, so why is it that we discriminate among people? I believe that to change something, you have to change yourself," said Subramanian.
Besides Ganatra and Subramanian, the 13-member group included filmmakers Sehran Mohsin and Omkar Potdar, mountain guide Karn Kowshik, IT consultant Prasad Gurav, German teacher Omana Kale, Israelis Uri Basha, Sophie Donio and her 14-year old son Baepi, adventure sports enthusiast Vaishak J.P., motivational speaker Nupur Pittie and consultant Adi Raheja.
The ABBF is said to be the only NGO in the country working with cross-disabilities by providing more opportunities to disabled persons with adaptive adventure and sports activities, marathons, tandem cycling, scuba-diving, paragliding and mountaineering.
S4H, co-founded by Subramanian and Guneet Puri in 2013 with the aim to rehabilitate the flood-ravaged people of Uttarakhand, has supported other causes like Kashmir floods, Nepal earthquake and since last year the disabled persons especially from the economically weaker income groups.