From Gaza to Mount Kilimanjaro

04 April 2014
From Gaza to Mount Kilimanjaro

At the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Motasem Abu Karsh, a Palestine refugee from Gaza’s Amer neighbourhood, raised the flag of Palestine to fly in the sky above Africa. For this 16-year-old, it was a particularly sweet victory. 

To reach the top of the mountain, Motasem had to overcome not just the everyday challenges of life in the Gaza Strip, but also physical disability. Injured in 2005 when a neighboring house was targeted by Israeli authorities, he eventually had to have his left leg and three fingers of his right hand amputated. 

Sports have always been a part of his life; in an athletics competition, he won the first prize in the javelin throw, and took second place in a swimming championship in Gaza. To become one of the thirteen young Palestine refugees attempting to climb Africa’s highest peak, on a trip organized by the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), he trained hard at the El-Salam Club for the Disabled. 

The training paid off. Moatasem says it took him five days to reach the top of Mount Kiliminjaro, and three to descend – outperforming all of his competitors. Thanking PCRF for the opportunity to engage children around the world with Palestine refugee issues, he says he’s ready to participate again in similar events, to make Palestine proud and show that refugees are capable of great success. 

That includes those who, like him, refuse to be limited by their physical challenges. Motasem’s message for them is simple: “You have a lot to offer and you can achieve anything you set your mind to."

Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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