Fort Myers woman climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money for orphans


Alice Skaff spent mere months training for what would be the greatest challenge of her life.

“I took on the challenge to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro,” Skaff said. “That was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano in Tanzania. It is the highest mountain in the African continent.

The lower portion of the mountain has primarily thick lowland forests. As the climber progresses the hike, he or she will encounter meadows and thinner oxygen.

Near the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, hikers navigate a harsh and barren landscape with an abundance of rocks and ice.

Skaff had never scaled a mountain before but decided to make the climb for kids in need.

“I thought this would be a good opportunity to raise awareness and funds to help all these orphanages,” Skaff said.

Skaff is the founder of Haven of Hope International, which supports 60 orphanages in 28 countries and has a presence in Florida.

Skaff, 54-years-old, said she created the nonprofit after mission trips opened her eyes to the reality of children without parents. Over 153 million children worldwide are orphaned, according to the nonprofit, and it seeks to support staff on the ground trying to help them.

PHOTO: Alice Skaff as she reached Stella Point on Mount Kilimanjaro. Photo Credit: Alice Skaff.

“Ninety-nine percent of orphans around the world will never be adopted,” Skaff said. “I was just appalled at the circumstances and the surroundings and what little they had. It just fueled my desire.”

In October, Skaff carried the children’s stories more than 18,000 feet.

“I kept telling myself … ‘The climb that they have to succeed is far more difficult than it would be for me to climb this mountain,’” Skaff said.

Hiking for five days until she reached Stella Point on Mt. Kilimanjaro.

“I held up my banner that said, ‘your future is worth the climb,’” Skaff said, as tears trickled from her eye. “It was emotional at the top. I’m back at the top right now.”

And helping children reach their summit of success.

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