Dana Al Anzy

Qatar Today - - THE TREND SETTERS -

It was not Dana Al Anzy who reached the top of Kil­i­man­jaro, it was Qatar.

It was ev­ery school girl in Doha who stepped up to sup­port her climb. It was ev­ery young per­son who has a dream that seems too far away. And she wanted them to see them­selves in her.

Look­ing back

A ROTA Youth Ad­vi­sory board mem­ber and sec­ond-year stu­dent at Ge­orge­town Uni­ver­sity, Dana Al Anzy meets us at the Torch Ho­tel where she and her fel­low climbers trained for weeks, climb­ing up and down the stuffy, oxy­gen-de­prived fire exit wear­ing heavy back­packs. When con­sum­mate ad­ven­turer and moun­taineer Sheikh Mo­hammed Al Thani put to­gether a team to as­cend Kil­i­man­jaro in an ef­fort to raise funds for ROTA, Al Anzy was one of the first to sign up.

“Per­son­ally I wanted to do it for the cause. I am a strong be­liever in ed­u­ca­tion be­cause it has given me so much. I wouldn't have been so con­fi­dent or vo­cal about my be­liefs and thoughts if I didn't have the ed­u­ca­tion or in­tel­lect needed to sup­port me. And I want the youth out there to have that chance as well. Those who are vic­tims, mis­placed, trau­ma­tised or just have a dream they think isn't re­al­is­tic, ev­ery child de­serves ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion; it is their right,” she says.

Mind-numb­ing gym ses­sions and a “bor­ing” diet that was in di­rect con­flict with her per­sonal phi­los­o­phy of never deny­ing food crav­ings were just the be­gin­ning. Anx­i­ety at­tacks, claus­tro­pho­bic tents, faint­ing spells, bit­ing winds, hail, sub-zero tem­per­a­ture, frost­bites and sunburns were still to come. Hav­ing trained in­de­pen­dently (“Although we were sup­ported to a cer­tain ex­tent, we were all adults. If we wanted to get up a moun­tain, we knew how to Google it and pre­pare our­selves phys­i­cally, men­tally and emo­tion­ally.”), Al Anzy was not pre­pared for how dis­torted time would seem the higher she climbed. “At one point, you couldn't keep up with time. What you un­der­stood as one hour had to be ex­panded. We walked for eight to nine hours a day for five days to reach the peak. Some­times it's just you and the si­lence of the moun­tain. Imag­ine, you are aching ev­ery­where, hun­gry and frus­trated but you couldn't sleep well be­cause it was re­ally cold. And rest was still five hours away. And no mat­ter where you are, the guides tell you that you are just one hour away from the fin­ish,” she out­lines the sce­nario.

Crys­tal gaz­ing

Each of the climbers was charged with rais­ing QR50,000 to­wards ROTA. Al Anzy gave her­self a new tar­get - QR200,000. But she wasn't go­ing to down the usual route of cor­po­rate spon­sor­ship. “I wanted the youth to mo­bilise and so en­listed three schools.” The re­ac­tion she re­ceived has given her new im­pe­tus to cre­ate projects through ROTA that bridge the gap be­tween NGOs and the youth. “When I reached out to the stu­dents, they re­sponded with so much en­ergy and pas­sion. They did what­ever they could - car­ni­vals, bake sales, sell­ing roses and Karak, at one point - to raise the money within the month.” And each of the schools was able to con­trib­ute in ex­cess of QR50,000 by them­selves.

“Th­ese ef­forts started spilling over into their aca­demics, and vol­un­teer­ing, to be spe­cific. Here they were rais­ing money to help chil­dren gain ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion, but what were they do­ing with the ed­u­ca­tion they were re­ceiv­ing? They started ask­ing them­selves th­ese ques­tions and it had a pos­i­tive im­pact on how they val­ued their ed­u­ca­tion,” she says. Al Anzy is also part of the WISE Learn­ers pro­gramme that is charged with find­ing in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions to to­day's ed­u­ca­tional prob­lems. “I also am a youth ad­vo­cate with Sheikha Moza's Ed­u­ca­tion Above All and want to cre­ate a rip­ple ef­fect in rais­ing aware­ness in Qatar about the num­ber of out of school chil­dren.” So with one thing or the other, Al Anzy has an­other packed year ahead and she says she's look­ing for­ward to a few more ad­ven­tures.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Qatar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.