My Motivation for Tackling Kilimanjaro

Mar 04, 2016

By: Abbey Turtinen, Associate, External Relations

As planning continues for the 2016 Kilimanjaro climb, and I reflect on my own experience last year, I’m so delighted to hear what inspired others to join the Summit to See the END. Global health professional Eileen Dolan was introduced to the END Fund through one of our 2014 climbers, Tori Powell. Read about Eileen’s motivation for signing up for this year’s trek and why she’s passionate about tackling this mountain…and NTDs. 

By: Eileen Dolan

Studying for my Masters of Public Health in Boston, I discovered my passion for fighting neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). For one of my graduate global health classes, I was assigned to a group that conducted a semester-long project around the control and elimination of NTDs. Our group chose to model our intervention off of the END Fund. I immediately wanted to be involved in an organization making strides in a field in which I aspired to have a career. I didn’t know it would be less than a year later that I would get the opportunity. Joining the 2016 Summit to See the END is a culmination of my training to complete my MPH and the implementation of my practicum living in Panama this past summer:

It was a sweltering Saturday in the rural mountains of Panama and my team and I were taking advantage of government payday to help surrounding communities by monitoring their health in the clinic we set up. One by one, we took the residents’ anthropometric measures, hemoglobin, blood pressure, and blood glucose – all routine checks – and filled these out on health cards for their records. The lines were out the door and I lost track of how many people I saw until I came across an individual who was not there for a simple health measurement but for something much more serious: leishmaniasis – one of many NTDs still prevalent in parts of the world. 

In working in the health clinic that day, I spoke to several individuals from the mountainous communities infected and affected by NTDs. Those infected had their whole lives changed by these diseases, experiencing adverse health effects and often times going undiagnosed, let alone untreated. Many times it wasn’t just one individual infected but an entire family because of the lack of sanitation infrastructure and the natural environment of where they live. Being in direct contact with these communities and seeing the levels of poverty and living conditions that contribute to increased chances of infection opened my eyes. By the time I returned from Panama this summer and presented my MPH practicum, I was firm in my resolve to dedicate my career to combat NTDs.

Committing to Kilimanjaro this summer means that I get to take the next step from learning about NTDs in my training to actively raising funds to combat these diseases. Pledging to raise $10,000 means being able to change countless lives affected by NTDs. Through my fundraising goal for Kilimanjaro, I hope that I am successful in raising awareness and getting networks of people talking about these diseases that affect the 1.6 billion people worldwide.


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