Bassam Lteif and the “Hike of Hope”,an example to follow

Hike of Hope

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can as long as you ever can.”

Hike of Hope is an initiative aiming to raise awareness within individuals to their personal social responsibility.

–        In 2010 5 Lebanese men took to the highest peak in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro, for the benefit of Children Cancer Center of Lebanon. 

–       In 2012 the Hike of Hope team climbed Mount-Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe, to support and raise funds for the Lebanese Association of SOS Children’s Villages and above all promote the cause of fundraising itself. 

The two initiatives ended up in great success with Hike of Hope raised over 100,000USD to charities in total.

hike of hope

Bassam Lteif is a 34-year-old Lebanese living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Lteif is the leader of the team that is currently embarking on a six-day trek of Africa’s tallest peak, a physical and emotional challenge, for a Lebanese cancer charity. NOW Lebanon sat down with Lteif before his journey to talk about the trek and what he hopes to accomplish with his fundraising.

How did you come up with the idea to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, and what is your goal?

Bassam Lteif: I came up with it while listening to the song “Africa” by Toto. I thought, I want to go to Africa and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, but I wanted to do it for a good cause. We started with a Facebook site, but then we got a query from a guy in London who offered to design a real website for us. Our main goal is to give the message that we are just six ordinary people with jobs, who have taken some time from their vacation to do some fundraising. We want to instill this idea of personal and social responsibility. I want people to say, “If Bassam raised X amount of money, then so can we.” 

How much have you raised?

Lteif: Well, we set a target of $100,000. We’ve raised $60,000 so far ($10,000 of which was from one corporate donor), but we’re still in the process. Most of my friends and family, they give to charity, but they’re not going to go to St. Jude’s Hospital and deliver a check, so by me doing this, I’m bringing the center to them. Because they know me, it pushes them to give a little more.

Did you train for the climb?

Lteif: Yes, I did. Most of us have been walking on a treadmill at maximum inclination. I lost six kilos!  The real fear is getting what’s called mountain sickness due to Kilimanjaro’s high altitude [5,893 meters]. Because of this, we’re taking the six-day route, the longer route, to allow ourselves time to acclimatize. And we have to get yellow fever shots and take malaria medication.

How did the group come together?

Lteif: Some people started calling me. They asked to participate. We wanted to keep the group at seven or eight, and we wanted to bring people from different backgrounds, different institutions. None of us are experienced hikers. We have two good athletes in the group; one is doing an ironman triathlon. The rest of us are amateurs.

What happens if you don’t reach the summit?

Lteif: If I don’t reach the summit, it’s ok. I’ve built a big network of people. I’ve learned a lot about fundraising and marketing. So, at the very least, this is going to be a buildup for “Hike of Hope 2011.”  We have the domain name now, and there is no shortage of charities of Beirut, so I plan to do this as a charity event every year.

Do you have another goal besides reaching the summit?

Lteif: In Lebanon, we really need to evoke this notion of personal responsibility when it comes to charity. For example, my niece is nine years old and she lives in the USA. The other day she made a jar of lemonade, and then she went around to the neighbors selling it, collecting money for charity. This idea is unheard of back home. One of the reasons why is that there is a complete lack of trust for fundraising. Unfortunately, some people think I’m doing this to take the money. They say, “What’s 

in it for you?  Are you taking a cut of it?”
Are people familiar with Tanzania and Mt. Kilimanjaro?

Lteif: No. Most Lebanese don’t know where it is. Everybody knows Mt. Fuji, Mt. Blanc.

To learn more or to donate, visit Hike of Hope’s website (http://hikeofhope.com)

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