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To the summit and back

The winner of the Reseller Middle East ‘Woman Executive of the Year’ at the ResellerME Partner Excellence Awards 2012, Claire Jones recently embarked on a mission to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro for charity. The lady tells us all about the climb up the tallest mountain on the African continent.

1. What motivated you to take up this remarkable opportunity?

In all honesty, climbing Mt Kilimanjaro was never a personal ambition for me. However, when I heard that Suzanne Al Houby (the first Arab women to climb Mt. Everest) was leading a group of women to join her in climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in aid of Palestine Child Relief Fund, I became very interested in participating in something that would embrace the strength of women whilst supporting a worthy cause.

In the fast-paced lives that we live today, it is easy to forget about those less fortunate than ourselves. I loved the idea of taking time out of my day-to-day life and to do something to give back to the community. Being a mother, it is hard to imagine how you would ever cope with having a child that is diagnosed with cancer. Knowing that I could do something, no matter how small, to help raise awareness and funds towards building a clinic for the children and their families, was my true key motivator for doing the climb.

2. When did the climb  take place and what kind of preparations did you have to make in order to successfully complete this mission?

The climb took place on 6th July 2012, and took 5.5 days climb to reach the peak of Kilimanjaro at an amazing 5,895 meters above sea level.

I signed up for the climb in February 2012, and spent five months preparing for the climb which included physical training with a personal trainer five times a week, and of course ensuring that we had the right gear for the mountain conditions.

3. Were other members of Cisco a part of this initiative as well? How many people in total made the climb?

It was great to have two other women from the Cisco family with me on the climb. Reeman Ansari, who manages our distribution business in the UAE and Enas Qawas from our architecture team, also joined the climb.

In total we were 12 women and 1 very brave young man, of 16yrs old, who gave up his summer holiday to participate.

4. What was the aim of this initiative? How far have you come in achieving it?

The aim of this initiative was to firstly raise money and awareness for the Palestine Child Relief Fund, and secondly to set myself a personal challenge. Thanks to family and friends generosity, we were able to raise $52,000! I was humbled by everyone’s generosity and support of the challenge that Reeman, Enas and I had set out.  In addition, Cisco kindly agreed to double this amount, and in the end, we were able to donate over $100,000 for this worthy cause.

Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro was one of the toughest physical and emotional challenges I’ve ever participated in. It took pure determination and a never-give-up attitude to reach the peak. It amazed me how strong our mind can be.  When you think that you have reached the peak of physical exhaustion, something within gives you the will power to continue.

5. So what’s next after Kilimanjaro?

I think I’ll take a break for now, but who knows.

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