Summit Climb Inspired by Hunger
Mountains and missing toes were the hot topic at yesterday’s Senior School assembly, with guest speaker Mark Squirrell sharing a snippet of his story of climbing to the summit of Mount Everest, the motivation behind the climb and the obstacles along the way. Members of the Christ Church and wider communities enjoyed the full story during a fundraising event at the School Chapel last night.
Mark’s humanitarian career started in East Timor 10 years ago when he left the Australian Commandos to assist the people of East Timor with the American-based NGO, International Rescue Committee. The complex and challenging environment, coupled with enormous rewards of satisfaction, provided magical motivation for Mark to continue a humanitarian career. His work for the committee included missions to Albania, Sudan and Afghanistan.
Mark then moved across to the United Nations and was employed by the World Food Programme as a Field Security Officer. After working in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Nepal and Sri Lanka, Mark is now deployed on contract from his home base in Melbourne.
It was during his time in Nepal that Mark decided to use his love of, and past experience in, “outdoor pursuits with a cause” to raise awareness of the hunger situation he was dealing with on a daily basis, and after only a few forays into the Himalayas during his time off in Nepal, Mark decided that Mount Everest would be the perfect platform.
After a six-week ordeal, Mark raised the WFP flag on the top of the highest mountain in the world. During his climb he saw death; suffered from lack of oxygen and nearly had to turn back just two hours from the summit; and watched one of his team members get frostbite in his feet, which resulted in him losing part of his toes. His constant motivation was from the tragic situations of hunger that he had been dealing with every day.
Previously, Mark had run the Athens marathon in 2003 covered from head to toe in an Afghanistan Burkha, and in 2004 he organised and captained a team of four to compete in a three-day multi-adventure race in East Timor (Timor Leste) that had been organised to promote peace.