Jun 26, 2014
Originally Posted in the Khaleej Times
Author: Kelly Clark
Dubai quartet plans Kilimanjaro ascent to distribute medicines to tropical disease victims
After coming across an article that claimed just 50 cents could change an impoverished person’s life, a group of Dubai investors wanted to explore just how true it was.
Now seven years on, the foursome plan to summit one of Africa’s highest peaks to help the world’s poorest.
“Climbing to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895m) is a big metaphor. It’s our way of reaching out to millions of people and helping raise awareness of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and those affected by it,” Legatum’s CEO Mark Stoleson tells Khaleej Times.
“A lot of funding goes into well-known diseases, but historically, only a small amount of emphasis has been put on tackling NTDs. It is underfunded and undersourced, so our vision with this climb is to make a declaration and speak up about the need for action.”With a vision to slowly eradicate this group of diseases which debilitate those in the developing world, the investment group’s managing director Alan McCormick says awareness is key.
NTDs — caused by parasites and bacteria – affect millions of people around the world, causing severe pain and long-term disability. But with just 50 cents needed for a sufferer to get simple medication, treatment is well within reach.
The Summit to see the END expedition intends to raise $50,000 for the END Fund, a global private philanthropic initiative to combat the five most common NTDs.
Currently, they are only $2,765 short of their target.
McCormick (UK), Stoleson (US), Sebastian Saches (Germany) and Nicolas Andine (France) will fly to Tanzania on Friday. On Sunday they start their six-day ascent to Uhuru Peak.
Mt Kilimanjaro is composed of three distinct volcanic cones, Kibo being the highest. Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo’s crater rim.
“In Swahili, Uhuru means freedom. When we reach the top of the mountain, we want to unveil a banner,” McCormick says,.
Notorious for its ever-changing weather, the temperatures at the peak can drop as low as -20 Celsius.
“I think our biggest challenge is going to be the altitude as it can cause severe sickness,” McCormick says.
Though this is their first fundraising challenge of its kind, McCormick and Stoleson say it could be the start of many to come.
The money raised by the Summit to see the END will be used for distribution of the drugs donated by pharmaceutical companies and other logistics.
Committing $10 million to this particular cause, Legatum will continue to work with other organisations over the coming years to help bring about the end of NTDs.
Last year, the END Fund reached 38 million people and McCormick says their hope this year is to reach more than 50 million. The future goal is reaching one billion people through broader engagement and fundraising.
Locally, Dubai Cares has donated more than $2 million since the inception of the End Fund. There have been considerable donations from Al Ansari family too.
NTDs have been in existence for hundreds of years but are getting eradicated as economies grow. Affecting over 1.5 billion of the world’s most impoverished people, including 800 million children, NTDs can cause sight loss and elephantiasis. They kill over 500,000 people per year.
So, as the Dubai quarter take their first step on the mountain’s base on Sunday, may it mark the first of many steps to end diseases that prevent others from taking leaps in their own lives.