Peter’s big mountain challenge to support vital burns project

Peter Smith is aiming to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania during a trek in September.
Peter Smith is aiming to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania during a trek in September.

A Morpeth man will attempt to reach the highest peak in Africa to help a hospital in the same country.

In September, Peter Smith will travel to Tanzania and he will be part of a group aiming to get to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895m).

All funds raised will be donated to the burns project at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC), which is about 25km away from the mountain. It is being supported by Bright Northumbria – the registered charity of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

The 55-year-old, an experienced nurse practitioner with the trust, has visited and worked at KCMC several times over the past 10 years and is actively involved with the initiative.

Being one of the poorest countries in the world, many families in Tanzania use kerosene to light their homes and use fire wood for cooking.

This all too often causes terrible accidents and debilitating injuries, resulting in thousands of men, women and children experiencing the emotional, physical and sometimes fatal consequences of burns every year.

The trek is set to take seven days and Mr Smith will also visit the hospital during his time in the country.

He said: “I was interested in doing the Mount Kilimanjaro climb as soon as it was mentioned early last year and I signed up in August.

“There are three of us from the trust doing it and we’ve gone out to Cumbria and the Cheviots several times to get used to going uphill and walking for many hours, although you can’t prepare for the altitude we will have to cope with in Tanzania.

“When I did a trek in the Himalayas in 2006 I got up to about 5,600m, so hopefully I will be able to reach the top of Kilimanjaro.

“It will be important for us to drink plenty of fluids and, even though I’m usually a fast walker, travel at a ‘slowly, slowly’ pace.

“I’m really looking forward to it, particularly as the route we’re using is the mountain’s most scenic route.”

The link between Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and KCMC started in 1999 and the burns project has been running since 2011.

It has included the establishment of a new treatment facility and staff going out to the hospital to support various departments, including finance, management, nursing, psychology and surgery, to help improve the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of burns in Tanzania.

They also bring with them some important items such as bandages and burns dressings.

Mr Smith said: “Not only is the culture and environment of Tanzania very different – and it can get really, really hot – we face challenges that we don’t experience in the UK. For example, the hospital can get over-crowded, medication can be difficult to get and the power supply is really unreliable.

“Despite the challenges, when a patient leaves with a huge smile on their face it is not only incredibly rewarding but it proves just how valuable the burns project is to communities in Tanzania.”

Events that have taken place and will be held to bring in funds include curry nights, coffee mornings and an African-themed social evening.

Mr Smith has brought in £2,000 so far. His trek in the Himalayas in 2006 raised a total of £8,500.

For more information about his Mount Kilimanjaro trek and the project, and to make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/Peter-Smith2015