By Florida Weekly Staff | on August 22, 2018

SKAFF

SKAFF

Children growing up without parents in impoverished nations face a challenge as imposing as any mountain. Haven of Hope International founder Alice Skaff plans to climb to the 19,341-foot summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in October to bring awareness to the plight of orphans, raise money for Haven of Hope’s partner orphanages, and inspire others to undertake their own climb for the “Klimbing for Kids” cause.

“I’m going to make it to the top. I have no doubt,” said Ms. Skaff, who turned 54 this year. “But as I’m training, I’m just thinking of these kids and the climb that they have just to succeed in life. This is nothing compared to their climb.”

An alarming 99.5 percent of children in orphanages around the world are never adopted. Orphanages turn out 10.5 million young adults each year, many without the life and vocational skills they need to survive on their own. Of those 10.5 million, 60 percent return to a life of poverty and 10 percent take their own lives.

Haven of Hope seeks to enhance the impact of orphanages, many of which have struggled to properly care for children, by providing sustainable programs that will meet the complex needs of the children. The nonprofit organization has developed a model at its flagship orphanage in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, that encourages children to “think big, dream bigger” and gives them the tools they need to pursue those dreams.

Now, through the “Klimbing for Kids” initiative, Haven of Hope is focused on answering the call of more than 60 other orphanages that have requested more than the rudimentary aid the organization is currently able to give them.

“We want to help other orphanages do more for the kids they serve,” Ms. Skaff said. “We can’t do that unless people get involved and help us raise awareness about the orphan crisis that’s going on, and donate to the cause so that we can go help these kids.”

Ms. Skaff has set a goal of raising $175,000, symbolizing the 175,000 feet of trail she’ll need to walk to get to the top of Kilimanjaro. Supporters can donate amounts based on the number of steps they take on walks, hikes or at the gym, and they can share the news of their own “climb” while challenging friends on social media with the hashtag #KlimbingForKids.

Gyms can also get involved by challenging other gyms to see which of them can donate the most steps to Klimbing for Kids. The same goes for companies, church groups and civic clubs.

Sponsorship opportunities and more information about #KlimbingForKids are available on havenofhopeintl.org/2018/05/climbing-to-raise-funds/.

Haven of Hope International is a Southwest Florida-based nonprofit that seeks to maximize the impact orphanages are making around the world. The first Haven of Hope orphanage in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was established in January 2004. Learn more at havenofhopeintl.org. ¦