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L.A. Residents Climb Africa’s Highest Mountain to Raise Funds for Somali Youth – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

From left (front) are Muna Nalaye, Dega Nalaye, Julie Buchwald, Neda Hadja, (back) John Hagood and Kern Vasan. (Courtesy photo)

Fundraising initiative reveals no mountain high enough to stop Somali youth from getting computers

In navigating the windings of this life, there are days of trudging through the dirt with fatigue, dodging a falling stone between steps, hugging turns so sharp they might cut you as you cling to them, hearing only the faint sounds of wildlife when the darkness beckons you.

Weather conditions may be harsh, energy may be low, hunger may be great, the destination may be obscure and remote – and the thought may arise: This is a mountain. I can not…

A global network of young professionals, some of whom are Los Angeles residents, are gathering in Africa next week to remind you that you can. Philanthropic.

Driven by a spirit of generosity and an opportunity to provide care for Somali children, on Saturday, July 9, this group of 15 travelers, made up in part of engineers, bankers, business executives, immigration attorneys and entrepreneurs, will converge from Los Angeles, Georgia , Canada and North Carolina to face the aforementioned challenges and climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.

On behalf of the foundation Give to Learn to Grow (GTLTG), which has established four schools for the formal education of Somali children since 2017, the tourists raise funds intended to build computer and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) laboratories for the nomadic youth they visit.

This will help bridge the global digital divide for a country with such a significant education deficit that three of its five million children are not in school, let alone proficient in the use of computers, the primary means by which information is accessed in these times.

Students leave Ahmed Saeed Nalayeh School after a fun day of learning. (Courtesy photo)

Financial advisor Dega Nalaye, one of the participants set to climb Mt Kilimanjaro next week, who was also integral to the creation of the new schools along with his family and friends, is proud to support this underserved community, especially as a Somali immigrant himself you are.

“It brings me great joy to have the ability to give back in such a meaningful way. This region is where I was born, and it has been greatly affected by environmental changes and civil war. I believe that providing education to the children of Somaliland will improve the lives of future generations,” Nalaye said.

Ahmed Said Nalaye School and Khadija Abdi Langadhe School, the two institutions slated to receive computer labs, currently serve nearly 600 students, all of whom are nomads, and have a waiting list, which speaks to demand and need.

Nalayeh explained: “The schools teach the Somaliland British/English curriculum, which is equivalent to the American Grade curriculum except that they are also required to be proficient in Somali (reading and writing) and Arabic.

“In addition, children learn life skills such as planting and growing trees/crops, how to procure water and environmental research. This region is heavily affected by the dry season and teaching children these skills will have a significant impact on children and their families.”

Children in one of GTGTL’s four schools focus intently on a lesson. (Courtesy photo)

GTLTG provides free education, lunch, stationery and uniforms for its students. The schools accommodate students up to the 8th grade, and a high school program is also being worked on.

Given the foundation’s progress over the past five years, it’s easy to imagine this expansion becoming a reality. Fundraising for the current initiative began in March with a goal of $320,000, and the organization has already received over $300,000 in donations to support the upcoming Kilimanjaro climb.

Located in the United Republic of Tanzania, in the Great Lakes region of East Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro is the fourth highest mountain in the world. This will find Nalayeh and her 14 fellow climbers at an elevation of 19,134 feet. The total distance they will walk is 37 miles gate to gate.

Considering that approximately 1,000 people are evacuated from the mountain each year and approximately 10 deaths are reported, this is an awe-inspiring mission. However, the tourists are well prepared, having trained together every weekend in different corners of the world for more than two years. Every Sunday in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, people in Los Angeles met and ventured out on different paths across the city.

Somali girls share smiles in their uniforms. (Courtesy photo)

Khodan Nalaye was a respected Canadian journalist who had a passion for covering positive stories in Somalia and contributing to the education of young people there. She is the namesake of the Hodan Nalayeh School.

Julie Buckwald, a special investigator with the Office of the Inspector General and the Los Angeles Police Department, who also plans to climb Kilimanjaro next week, recalled, “That’s how we facilitated the relationship during quarantine.”

The importance of connection has been highlighted since the pandemic as so many people have struggled with isolation and loss. For Nalaye, whose family suffered a major tragedy in 2019, this climb hits home in more ways than one. “[About] two years ago my sister, a young journalist who was loved by people all over the world, was killed in the line of duty. This initiative is being held in her honor,” she said.

The younger sister Nalaye was a respected Canadian journalist who had a passion for covering positive stories in Somalia and contributing to the education of young people there. She is the namesake of the Hodan Nalayeh School.

Buchwald, an athlete who has never been to Tanzania, can relate to the loss. “I too have known tragedy. We live in challenging times. In dark times in the past, what has gotten me through this is when I’ve stepped outside of myself to find a deeper, broader, greater purpose,” she shared.

The Somali boys put on their new uniforms. (Courtesy photo)

This initiative certainly qualifies. The excursion will see the international group of tourists traveling for 7 days, sharing tents for one night. “I’ve never been camping,” Nalaye laughed. “So there are a lot of firsts here.”

Besides the more obvious daunting challenges, there’s also the difficult matter of packing for such an epic adventure.

“We are not able to take more than forty pounds of weight. It’s the rainy season. There will be ice. It will get cold. I’ve taken cold showers [to prepare]. But at the end of the day, mind is over matter,” Nalaye added.

Thrive Global has partnered with GTLTG to secure supplies. The initiative generates support of all kinds. Buchwald shared, “I can’t believe how many people have donated, family members, friends from my school days and even their parents.”

“When you look at the state of the union and the focus on things that are bad, no matter what you want to do, if you’re feeling frustrated and you want to see change, get together with your tribe and execute. Anyone can do it. I truly believe that you can live a more fulfilling and happy life by helping others,” Nalaye says. “And when you achieve, you end up inspiring other people to do other things.”

To learn more, get inspired and donate, go to http://ow.ly/8ojM50J6Rfm.

All books are free to Somali students through the Give to Grow to Learn Foundation. (Courtesy photo)

L.A. Residents Climb Africa’s Highest Mountain to Raise Funds for Somali Youth – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel Source link L.A. Residents Climb Africa’s Highest Mountain to Raise Funds for Somali Youth – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

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