Quadruple amputee to scale Ethiopia’s highest mountain

13 Nov 2018

Alex Lewis, a quadruple amputee whose life changed five years ago when he contracted Strep A with Septicaemia and Toxic Shock Syndrome, which then led to amputation of all his limbs, is embarking on a monumental challenge. Alex is hoping to climb one of Africa’s tallest mountains – Ras Dashen in Ethiopia.

For two weeks in January, Alex is going to scale up the mountain using a unique hand-cycle, designed and built by a team of Masters students from the University of Southampton, led by Christopher Charalambous.

At 4,550 metres, Ras Dashen is the highest mountain in Ethiopia – and the tenth highest in Africa – and is part of the Simien Mountains National Park located in Gondar, Amhara Regional State.

The hand-cycle can only take him up to a certain point, so Alex will be rock-climbing the last few hundred metres of the mountain.

Joining Alex on this challenge will be Emebet Ale Dires, a double amputee from Bahir Dar in Ethiopia, as well as a team of supporters.

On 7th November, Alex and his team paid a courtesy visit to the Embassy where they were welcomed by His Excellency Ambassador Hailemichael Aberra Afework, senior diplomats and staff.

Emebet Ale Dires with David Collinson (center), Founder and Leader of the Wild Wheelchairs Project

During the visit, we learned more about their upcoming trip to Ethiopia as well as their project – the Wild Wheelchairs Project – through which they plan to build a wheelchair manufacturing plant in Bahir Dar and support ongoing programmes in the region by raising disability awareness and most of all, inspiring the community.

The project, which was launched in London on 17th October, will transform the lives of hundreds of people in Bahir Dar.

Ambassador Hailemichael took the opportunity to highlight ongoing changes in Ethiopia, especially with regards to disability awareness, and wished the team the best of luck in their upcoming challenge.

In addition to the ongoing reforms in Ethiopia, including gender equality, disability awareness has also been taking centre stage. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and First Lady Zinash Tayachew visited Mekodonia, a home for the elderly and mentally ill, where they donated 15 modern wheelchairs and encouraged Ethiopians to dedicate their time and resources to noble causes.

Ethiopia’s constitution guarantees equal rights to all people, and those with disabilities benefit from equal opportunities and full participation in development.

Although Alex has already taken on challenges involving kayaking and cycling, the Ras Dashen Challenge will be his greatest challenge so far.

For an exclusive interview with Alex and his team, please watch the video below.

Quadruple Amputee to Climb Ras Dashen mountain in Ethiopia

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