Everest and the Palestinian for whom 'nothing is impossible' even 'with one leg' (video)
by Maddalena Tomassini

Jarah Alhawamdeh lost his right leg to cancer at the age of 15, but this did not stop him from becoming a mountain climber, first the Kilimanjaro and now Mount Everest. His goal is to save the school in the Amman refugee camp where he grew up. "I do believe that we, as Palestinians, should show the world that we are educated, successful and that we deserve to have a good life as any human being,” he said.

Lukla (AsiaNews) – Helping the refugee camp where he grew up, the school where he studied for ten years, and prove that “nothing is impossible" is what motivated Jarah Alhawamdeh, a 22-year-old Palestinian refugee, to climb Mount Everest.

Jarah lives in the Al Jofeh refugee camp near Amman, Jordan, and has survived bone cancer at the age of 15, which took his right leg.

On the UNRWA’S fundraising page, Jarah writes that the cancer “did not stop me from becoming a climber two years later and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 2015 (5100 m) with a message of hope for cancer patients; I wanted to show them that nothing is impossible.”

The purpose of his latest climb, which began on 2 April, is to raise awareness and funds for UNRWA and his refugee camp, which could close due to the agency's financial crisis.

What follows is the interview Jarah gave AsiaNews from Lukla, which he left for Kathmandu yesterday. "I am going back to Jordan Sunday evening,” he said. His family – his proud mother – are waiting, as are the students from his old school. Once home, he plans to celebrate with the students. The interview was edited for clarity.

How did the climb go?

Very well!

Was it like you imagined?

Actually yes. I have been dreaming about doing this for more than three years.

Were there difficult moments in the journey?

The weather was the worst! We faced two storms! And in the last three days, it was very difficult to breathe! It was minus 30 degrees! I couldn't feel my nose! When we started climbing we were 11 and only two made it. I'm one of the two!

Did you ever feel discouraged?

No, never. I was always thinking about my school students and the refugee camp, and I really felt the great responsibility of succeeding.

Do you want to tell me more about them? About your school and camp?

I grew up in the Al Jofeh Camp in Amman, Jordan. A camp for Palestinian refugees. With my family.  With the picture of our original home (in Palestine) in the middle of our small home in that camp. With the hope of going back. Then I started my education. Going to the UNRWA school, me and my brothers.

Did you like it, studying?

Yes, sure. To learn and study. It is the only way to be successful and get out of the camp. I do believe that we, as Palestinians, should show the world that we are educated, successful and that we deserve to have a good life as any other human being.

Is that why you chose to climb Mt Everest?

I do believe it is a message that deserve to be told! The refugees’ message.

So, if asked the meaning of this challenge to you, what would you say, exactly?

I just wanted to prove that nothing is impossible! And I did it, with one leg!

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