THEY DID IT! UK and Ethiopian amputee duo ascend Ethiopia’s highest mountain

31 Oct 2019

British quadruple amputee, Alex Lewis, Ethiopian double amputee Emebet Dires, accompanied by the Wild Wheelchairs Project team successfully reached the Ras Dashen Summit at 4,533 metres on 6th October.

Alex had both arms and both legs amputated and underwent extensive skin grafts and facial reconstruction, after contracting strep A toxic shock syndrome, septicaemia and necrotising fasciitis in 2013. Emebet, now 19, was hit by a car at the age of three and lost both her legs from the knee down. She now plays wheelchair basketball, races tricycles and is also keen to take on the challenge.

Arriving in Ethiopia on 27th September, the team were accorded a warm Ethiopian welcome in Bahir Dar by local government officials and Emebet. In a video shared widely on social media, Alex and Emebet are seen doing the Eskista – a traditional Ethiopian dance.

Over the next several days, Alex and Emebet ascended Ethiopia’s highest mountain using a special solar-powered handcycle designed by students from the University of Southampton.

Alex Lewis, Emebet Dires and David Collinson at the summit of Ras Dashen

This was no easy feat for the two amputees, especially given the weather conditions – Ethiopia was at the last stages of the rainy season! At one stage, the pair managed to drive their handcycles past a bus stuck in the mud. A few days later, the support team had to carry the handcycles across a river ford in knee-high water.

On 30th October, the team were welcomed to the Embassy for a meeting with Ambassador Fesseha who congratulated them for their monumental achievement and thanked them for choosing Ethiopia for their first expedition. The Ambassador reiterated the Embassy’s support for their future endeavours and extended an invitation to the team to explore other parts of Ethiopia on their next trip.

Briefing the Ambassador, Alex said: “Our expectations [in Ethiopia] were met! It was the most remarkable 17 days I have ever had.” Alex also applauded Emebet, the Ethiopian double amputee who accompanied him on the adventure, adding that she will make a great Ambassador for disability awareness in Ethiopia.

Alex and Emebet speaking to school children in Ethiopia

Founded by Alex Lewis Trust and David Collinson, Wild Wheelchairs Project is raising money to finance the construction of a wheelchair manufacturing facility in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, and support ongoing programmes to help the disabled in that region. For further information, visit: http://bit.ly/WildWheelchairsProject.

Alex’s and Emebet’s full journey has been filmed by director Simon Ratigan for a documentary to be screened at a later date.

Latest News

Browse all
Unchanged stances and additional and excessive demands of Egypt and Sudan have prohibited the conclusion of this round of negotiation by an agreement. Ethiopia is committed to showing flexibility to reach a win-win outcome on all outstanding issues.
14 Jul 2020
Press Release on the Tripartite Negotiation on the GERD
Since the tragic incident of June 29 which claimed the life of Hachalu Hundesa and the destruction that ensued, the government has been actively engaged in maintaining the rule of law and holding all perpetrators accountable. Two suspects have been apprehended for their involvement in the killing, while a third is still at large.
10 Jul 2020
Press Release from the Prime Minister’s Office
Statement from the Office of the Prime Minister on the context and updates on current issues in Ethiopia.
8 Jul 2020
Context and Updates on Current Issues in Ethiopia
Make the most of lockdown and dedicate some of that extra time to learning something new…something Ethiopian! This month, bake a banana loaf with an Ethiopian twist, watch a documentary about a town of famous runners and visit an online art exhibition.
3 Jul 2020
#STAYATHOME: THINGS TO DO
In pursuit of an African solution to African problems, the leaders of Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt held a meeting on finalizing the technical negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The meeting set directions on the way forward, in which the three countries have agreed to conclude the negotiations and to try to reach a final agreement within the next…
30 Jun 2020
African solutions to African problems
On 28th June, the Embassy hosted Ethiopian Medical Doctors in the UK led by Dr. Merid Gebru, who passed on their experience of handling Covid-19 in the UK that might be transferable to Ethiopia. The full discussion will be available on our YouTube page soon. 
30 Jun 2020
Ethio-UK medical professionals discuss impact of COVID-19
Delivered by Ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie, Permanent Representative of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the United Nations, at the Security Council open VTC on Peace and Security in Africa on 29 June 2020.
29 Jun 2020
Ethiopia’s statement at the UN Security Council on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
The Ethiopian Communications Authority received 12 bids for two telecom licences following the announcement of plans to liberalise the economy and allow foreign and private investors into key state-owned companies. Of the 12 submissions, nine are telecom operators, two are non-telecom operators and one was incomplete.
29 Jun 2020
Ethiopia receives 12 bids for telecom licences
The threat of the coronavirus pandemic is on the rise in Ethiopia and over the last few weeks, the virus has taken hold amongst communities across the country, with Addis Ababa the epicentre of the pandemic. As a greater crisis looms, we will need every help we can get to protect the people of Ethiopia.
26 Jun 2020
Urgent Appeal: Help support Ethiopia through the Coronavirus crisis
Some amendments have been made to the State of Emergency in response to the current situation of COVID-19 in Ethiopia. All travellers arriving at Bole International Airport who have a certificate of negative COVID-19 test done up to 72 hours before arrival will be required to self-quarantine at home for 14 days.
22 Jun 2020
COVID-19 Travel Update
As country and travel restrictions begin to ease, Ethiopian Airlines are resuming operations on many of their routes for business and leisure travel. From Heathrow a daily non-stop evening departure to Addis Ababa is operating and from 2nd July, the 3-times weekly Manchester–Addis service resumes.
22 Jun 2020
Ethiopian Airlines takes back to the skies