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UOWD alumna scales Kilimanjaro in aid of girls’ education in Afghanistan

Tuesday, 12 August, 2014

Entrepreneur, mother, campaigner, and now adventurer, Mona Tavassoli has just returned from her latest challenge to reach the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of girls’ education projects in Afghanistan. The University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) was one of the main sponsors of its alumna’s expedition, performed under the banner ‘World Peace through Women’s Empowerment’.

Working with the Womanity Foundation, the Master of International Business graduate set out to raise $6,000 to secure 2 years of stationery supplies for 12 schools educating around 24,000 female students in the beleaguered country. By supporting the education of the next generation of women, Mona hopes to empower them to shape the future and accelerate progress in their communities.

As the founder and director of Momsouq and Mompreneurs – online communities that support collaboration and personal/professional development among women in the region –  Mona has long championed the role of females in society. However, she is clear that her campaign is not a feminist one, but rather for peace and harmony among all mankind.

Mona explained, “Women have a huge influence on their family, community and society. Although most of our leaders are men, the majority of them were raised by a woman. A woman's belief system has a direct influence on her children.

“In today's world, it's very challenging to change our current leaders’ belief system, but what we can do is invest in the next generation, raise them differently - with love. I am a strong believer that a person that has experienced love and is at peace with himself or herself, cannot harm another being.”

Driven by her passion to make a difference, Mona set out on a gruelling seven day trek to scale Kilimanjaro’s Uhuru peak, the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, at 5,895 metres. With fewer than 50% of all ascents to the peak being successful, Mona recognised it would be an extremely tall order.

She revealed, “I knew that the trip would challenge me physically and mentally. I am fascinated by our abilities and how our limiting beliefs stop us in life; human beings are a very powerful species and we sometimes forget about that. Every challenge in my life – planned or not – has made me a stronger person.”

Mona’s training for the epic adventure involved cold weather acclimatisation at Ski Dubai, rock climbing sessions at Wafi Mall, and trekking practice up and down Jebel Hafeet, alongside regular intensive gym sessions. She even took to the air to overcome her fears with a tandem skydive. Ultimately her hard work paid off as she reached the top of Uhuru peak following a final day’s climb of 16 hours without sleep.

“It was unlike anything I've done before”, concluded Mona, who is now focussed on continuing her campaign to reach her $6,000 target. “We have already raised over $4,000 dollars for girl’s education in Afghanistan and every step of my climb was worth it. The campaign will carry on until I reach my goal.”

 To find out more about Mona’s campaign, visit http://www.mygivinggroup.com/g599635/mona-s-kilimanjaro-challenge.html