A group of Jordanians from various backgrounds — social activists and artists to successful entrepreneurs — are planning an unusual trip next spring: they will climb the highest point on Earth: Mount Everest. But their starting point will be Jordan, where the Dead Sea lies 400 metres below sea level, making it the lowest point on the globe.
There is more to it than just the trip. The 22-member team wants to raise funds for the expansion of a unique health centre in Jordan where many patients from other Arab countries seek treatment. The cancer centre, a source of pride for Jordan and Jordanians, is among the few accredited disease-specific health centres outside the United States specialising in treating cancer.
“Going to Mount Everest is a challenge, but the real challenge is helping the King Hussein Cancer Center expand,” said Fayrouz Zghoul, a cultural and social entrepreneur in her early thirties. She is sad that the centre has not been able to accomodate some patients due to lack of space.
“I believe in the power of individuals; we all can make a difference. Donations do not need to be big. Think of it as this: for the price of a cup of coffee or few SMSs you send to a friend you can save somebody’s life,” added Zghoul, who is looking forward to lending a helping hand to the effort. She hopes she and the rest of the team will succeed in raising more than 1 million dinars (Dh5.14 million).
“This illness is considered among the catastrophes of our time because of the suffering and impact on the economy,” said Ehab Hinnawi, CEO of Umniah Mobile Company, and one of the participants. “God willing, this campaign will help ease the burden,” he said.
Hinnawi has revealed in a video of the fundraising campaign posted online that he lost both parents to cancer.
Some of the participants, such as Zghoul, were looking for such an opportunity. Others were picked by the team leader, Mostafa Salameh, a well-known Jordanian climber. Still others had been affected by cancer, with survivors among them who know the suffering of those diagnosed with the illness. And there are also those who feel obliged to do something in return for the good service and professional health care patients receive from the centre’s well-trained staff.
Renowned social activist and philanthropist Maher Qaddoura was one of the people approached by Salameh. “I need challenges in my life at this age. I am always looking for challenges …. This is my personal motive, and what do you need nicer than a good cause such as this?” Qaddoura, who is in his late fifties, told Weekend Review during a recent visit to Dubai. “I love the idea of supporting a world-class organisation,” added Qaddoura, referring to the King Hussein Cancer Center, a three-time recipient of an international accreditation as a disease-specific health organisation.
“He [Salameh] wanted to do something to help cancer patients and we are so very grateful for that,” said Princess Dina Mired, director-general of the King Hussein Cancer Foundation, during a recent interview with Weekend Review at her office in Amman. “The team is even paying for all the expenses of their trip,” she noted. Describing next spring’s trip as “fantastic”, Princess Dina added, “This is fundraising in an innovative, fun way — by climbing a mountain. Not only does it put the King Hussein Cancer Foundation and Center on the map, but it energises other people to fundraise and increases awareness of this critical cause — the fight against cancer.”
Princess Dina added that all fundraising efforts should have the prior approval of the foundation and be held in coordination with it, as the name of the foundation and centre will be used in the campaign. Fundraisers also have to make a pledge to raise a certain amount of money. Princess Dina said the new building under construction is “not just a building, but a life-saving space. As one of the best cancer centres in the region, the King Hussein Cancer Center receives an overwhelming number of patients. Our centre has had to turn some patients away simply due to lack of space.”
The construction of the expansion is under way. The 120 million dinar (Dh618 million) project is expected to double the centre’s capacity by adding another 200 beds in two new buildings.