Stefanos Tsallas, a young doctor from Greece, recently conquered Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, in an effort to raise funds for the ”Médecins Sans Frontières” non-governmental organization.
The 32-year-old Greek student has racked up a long list of volunteer activities throughout his life, but this time he decided to raise money for Doctors Without Borders while accomplishing something he had never done before.
Once decided on his quest to top Africa’s highest peak, he created an online platform where people worldwide could read about his mission to climb Kilimanjaro and make donations. His target was to raise € 2 for every meter of Kilimanjaro he and his friends would climb. He has now succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, netting almost € 9,000 ($10,330) for the international charity.
The difficulties Tsallas and his team faced during their 5-day trek in Africa were countless. Temperatures were sometimes lower than –22 degrees Celsius (-8 degrees Fahrenheit). The climbers had only small, thin nylon tents in which to spent the freezing nights.
Carrying only a few cans of dried food, they made the best of a tough food situation. They also had to cope with drastically lower oxygen levels in the atmosphere the higher they climbed.
Many casual climbers may take Mt. Kilimanjaro for granted, looking at its rather gentle slopes, extending from Kenya into Tanzania. But experienced climbers know it is a major accomplishment to top the giant mountain, as one must begin climbing in the tropics but end the trek in Alpine conditions.
Tsallas and his fellow climbers had to be extraordinarily careful, as even a tiny mistake in the way they used oxygen, or in pacing their ascent, could have cost them their lives.
But the brave team reached their goal.
They managed to step atop the 5,895-meter (19,341-foot) peak of Kilimanjaro on the first day of 2019.
By January 3, they were already back down at base camp at the foothills of the mountain.
This is not the first time Tsallas has taken it upon himself to go on a mission to help the Doctors Without Borders organization.
In 2017, he left his university in London, where he was studying for his masters in plastic surgery, to go to the Greek island of Lesvos and assist refugees there. At that time, scores of migrants were landing on Mediterranean islands every day in search of a better job or to get away from conflicts and war.
Tsallas’ ultimate dream is to work for Doctors Without Borders, in their plastic surgery hospital in Amman, Jordan. Their facility there is recognized as one of the best hospitals of its kind in the world.
Until then, the intrepid young Greek climber will remain in the small village of Kissos on Mount Pelion in Greece’s Magnesia region, where he is training to be a doctor for the Greek national healthcare system.