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CLIMBING FOR A REASON
An opportunity for redemption for the girls and boys of Pakistan
In July of this year, mountaineer Tamara Lunger returned to Pakistan together with climber Wafaa Amer with a special mission: to carry on the "Climbing for a Reason" project, which involved teaching Pakistani girls and boys from the Shigar Valley about climbing, the construction of a climbing wall, the equipping of some crags, knot and rigging workshops, and the donation of equipment and clothing for climbing. Strongly supported by Juan Pablo Mohr, the South Tyrolean climbing partner who died tragically in February 2021 during the attempt of a winter ascent of K2 (an expedition that also cost the lives of John Snorri and Ali Sadpara, as well as Atanas Skatov and Sergi Mingote, who died a few days earlier), Climbing for a Reason is an initiative with a profound cultural and social implication, the reasons that prompted Tamara and Wafaa to take over the baton of the Chilean mountaineer: the goal, in fact, was to show local communities a possible career development in the world of climbing and offer an opportunity starting from the resources of their land, as well as a way to remember a dear friend.
. “For me and JP's friends it was important to follow up on his dream and carry out this project. I was particularly keen to involve girls: I would like to see them take their lives into their owns hands and follow their dreams. I wanted to let women know how beautiful it is to be a woman and how many wonderful things can be done. For the first time, two women also took part in the project as organizers, and it was nice to work with them”, said Tamara Lunger. "Naila Yasmeen, our local contact person who coordinated the whole initiative, went to the village and knocked from door to door to ask parents for permission to allow their sons and daughters, who would otherwise have worked in the fields, to go and climb. Teaching Muslim girls to climb - an experience that otherwise they would never have had the opportunity to experience - provided a very strong emotion “, continued the South Tyrolean athlete.
Wafaa Amer, the strong, young climber of Egyptian origin, is particularly sensitive to gender issues, coming from a country where sport practiced by women - apart from a few exceptions - is still a taboo. "When they proposed to me to participate in this project, I immediately thought that - both for me and for the girls - it could represent a sort of revenge, of redemption, as well as a way to give something - thanks to my experience - to these young people, just like when I came to Italy and started climbing at the age of fifteen thanks to many people who helped me and who will always be in my heart. I remember, for example, a gentleman who always accompanied me to competitions and at the same time, aware and respectful of my culture, took me home at appropriate times, since my father didn't know I was climbing and the secret had to be kept ", said. Wafaa. "I think it was an important experience for the emancipation of girls in Pakistan:
I remember that when I was little, in Egypt, every stimulus I received from the outside, such as simply seeing a tourist, aroused my interest and desire to change. During the journey we took with these girls, I thought that climbing could be a way to experience something completely different that they didn't even know existed: climbing could represent a path that would lead them to decide for themselves independently. I believe that thanks to this experience Tamara and I have had the opportunity to sow a seed of curiosity within the girls that will raise questions in them and perhaps arouse the desire to discover new possibilities. The more we experience new circumstances, the more we open up mentally. The coolest thing was when the girls finally told me they wanted to be like me and promised me they would keep climbing forever. We exchanged numbers and I know they are continuing to climb” continued the climber.
For young Pakistani girls, climbing could mean an instrument of redemption and emancipation from a conservative and patriarchal society, the first step in overcoming gender discrimination. "Clearly, I understood many dynamics of the local culture, such as when girls put their clothes over their harnesses because it is forbidden to show the shapes of their bodies, and I also knew that they could not even climb close to their brothers. Luckily we managed to bolt two neighbouring sectors, one for the females and the other for the males, so we could stay apart.” Initially the girls were a bit skeptical but as soon as they tried to climb they had a lot of fun: they even came to call us at home because they couldn't wait to go climbing. The second day we took them to the panel but they said they preferred climbing on the cliff: they had already understood everything! I was also amazed when I saw parents who supported their daughters in this way, in Egypt when I was little I was forced to do many things secretly from my parents, such as playing with my cousins or putting on nail polish: until you are married, it is forbidden to wear make-up, while the girls used lipstick and made themselves beautiful here, something that surprised me, I expected them to be more rigid ”, concluded the La Sportiva athlete.
This sport can represent a key for a process of cultural change and recognition of gender rights, thanks to a project that has not ended, but rather is a work in progress “. A really nice harmony was created within the group and there were many good moments of sharing. The girls helped each other a lot while climbing, they were always super enthusiastic and full of desire to climb and immediately became attached to me and Wafaa, perhaps because they saw in us a model to follow: with them I talked about K2 and my travels as a mountaineer while Wafaa told them her story. It seemed to me that my choices were a milestone and a victory for many women and I am proud of them, I hope they open the way for other girls to change their status quo and believe in themselves ", said the mountaineer of the La Sportiva team. . "I think it was a truly enriching experience for them: in the end they didn't want us to go away, they made us promise that we would come back, they cried and gave us many gifts, they really loved us.
It was a very intense adventure, enriching and full of beautiful challenges: I remember for example, at the beginning, that finding the material to build the climbing wall in the small village was really complicated and we almost lost hope, but in the end we made it. I think I really gave my all, I really wanted to be a good example for them and pass on as much as possible.
I would like to come back at least once a year and be able to pay through crowdfunding, the local guides who give continuity to the climbing courses", concluded Tamara Lunger. The project was started through crowdfunding and involved many people from all over the world, attracted by the genuineness and usefulness of this idea. Sociality, women empowerment, giving back to and supporting local communities are values that have been part of our company since the beginning - says Lorenzo Delladio, CEO & President - to be side by side with our athletes Tamara and Wafaa on this journey and to be able to supply the climbing shoes to allow Pakistani girls and boys to start climbing was an enriching experience for everyone involved.
During the days in Pakistan there were also moments of meditation in memory of Juan Pablo Mohr, a summiteer of several eight thousand peaks without the use of Sherpas or oxygen cylinders (in 2020 he had climbed Lhotse and Everest in less than a week) , as well as being the first Chilean to climb an 8000m peak (the Annapurna in 2017) and an architect: it is thanks to his skills, in fact, that he had designed several high mountain shelters, as well as having founded the Fundación deporte Libre, which deals with recovering disused public spaces to transform them into sports facilities, revaluing them and allowing even less affluent sections of the population to experiment with this sport. Mohr, who has always been attentive to social issues, had expressed his desire to try to guarantee a future for Pakistani children, allowing them to have fun climbing and above all by trying to use a resource present in the mountainous area of this international mountaineering. Lots of friends of Juan Pablo who expressed enthusiasm for Climbing for a Reason, as well as people who were carried away by the enthusiasm of Tamara and Wafaa.
After the first Climbing for a Reason initiative in Pakistan, we are already thinking about the future: Tamara and Wafaa have embarked on a training route that will last over time and will allow the project to develop independently.
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