12 people will climb Everest to raise funds for burn victims. Seen are some members of Avela Foundation. Picture: Supplied.

A team of 12 people will climb Everest in May in a bid to raise R2 million  to help refurbish a Kimberly Hospital’s burn ward in the Northern Cape.

 In collaboration with the Smile Foundation, the climbers  will embark on their journey on April 29 to Kathmandu, Nepal. The hike, expected to take 9 days, will begin on May 2, 2018.  Hoping to crowdfund a total of R2 million rand on donations-based crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy, the team have begun vigorous training.

 Cami Palomo, the founder of the Avela Foundation, a non-profit organisation that is committed to helping children on their road to physical and emotional recovery after sustaining severe injuries from burns,  assembled the  dream team to accompany her on a journey to Base Camp, on Mount Everest.

 She says that around 3.2% of the South African population annually sustains serious burn injuries and an astonishing 68% percent of South African children younger than 14 have experienced scalding burns in their short lifetime.

 “We provide hope to those kids who are in desperate need of physical as well as emotional care after having suffered life- threatening or debilitating burn injuries”, says Palomo.

 In November 2016 the Avela foundation teamed up with the Smile Foundation to donate the first ever R1.5million laser machine to the Red Cross War Memorial Hospital, a machine that has dramatically improved the appearance of scarring in children who have suffered from severe burns. Joining forces for a second time, the respective charities aim to once a again bring hope to burn victims.

 Hedley Lewis, Smile Foundation’s CEO, says this journey is about overcoming challenges for both the climbers but just as importantly for burn survivors.

 Among those survivors is the Head of the Avela Mentorship Programme, William Baartman, who at age of three years old, was a victim of gross Human Rights violation when his home was petrol bombed by local students. He sustained 75% burn wounds and lost his younger sister, Grace in the fire.

 William hopes to raise R75 000 to join the mount Everest hikers to inspire others who were once like him.

“I was too afraid to leave the house because I was scared of what others might think and now I’m wanting to climb Mount Everest. I hope to send a message to those hiding from the world, that there’s hope for them, hope they think doesn’t exist,” he says. They have generated a total of R402 903.13 towards their target of R2million. 

 To support Avela’s crowdfunding campaign to  refurbish the Kimberley Hospital burn ward, support one of the amazing hikers here: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/groups/everest-for-avela-2018