x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Abu Dhabi mum scales peaks to raise climate awareness

An Abu Dhabi woman is hoping that taking youngsters on exploratory expeditions with her will help them appreciate nature and its fragility.

Zeina Abdo (right), who takes youths on environmental expeditions, seen here trekking Chamonix in France with Hanan Abu-Ghazaleh.
Zeina Abdo (right), who takes youths on environmental expeditions, seen here trekking Chamonix in France with Hanan Abu-Ghazaleh.

ABU DHABI // A mother of two aims to educate youngsters about the environment by taking them to rainforests and the Arctic.

Zeina Abdo, 36, said her youth programme would help the next generation learn about nature by letting them see it first hand.

The Abu Dhabi resident, from Lebanon, hopes to take youngsters to Borneo, the Alps and Antarctica on expeditions.

She began during the Eid break last month when she helped a 26-year-old Jeddah woman climb in Chamonix, in France.

Her youth programme focuses on "self discovery, self leadership, tapping into their unknown and undiscovered potential while making them understand the value of nature, its power and fragility", Ms Abdo said.

She would like to get pupils aged 16 and 17 and young adults to try outdoor challenges - from a simple hike in the countryside to visiting a rainforest or climbing a mountain.

"I would also like to get the young generation to understand that we're part of nature and should live with and by her," Ms Abdo said. "It is a continuation to my challenge last summer."

In July, she attempted to reach the summit of Mont Blanc to raise awareness about climate change, receding glaciers and water scarcity. But bad weather forced her to abandon the climb, so she headed to Glacier d'Aletsch in Switzerland, the biggest glacier in the Alps.

The Alps are an example of the many peaks affected by global warming, Ms Abdo said.

"I strongly believe in this qualitative approach of coaching dynamic young people on the value of nature and our role in preserving it," she added.

Ms Abdo started coaching Jeddah woman Hanan Abu-Ghazaleh for her trip to Chamonix via email in July, offering advice on training, food and food supplements.

She designed a programme for her based on what she wanted to achieve and discover about herself and nature.

"I have no doubt that we have made out of Hanan a messenger who has been touched by nature and knows exactly how essential it is for us to act responsibly," Ms Abdo said.

Ms Abu-Ghazaleh, who spent hours training to climb and mountaineer, described the five-day trip as "gruelling and the most challenging experience" of her life.

"I loved every moment of it," she said. "There were moments when I had to face my fears but Zeina helped me push my own limits.

"I had to find out what has been holding me back in my life."

Ms Abdo said she would continue extending support to people and issues "that do not have a voice of their own", in a bid to make a difference.

In February, she will take a group of university students to Antarctica to educate them on global warming and climate change as part of her youth programme.

She is the founder of Smile for Hope, a non-governmental organisation in Nepal that gives paediatric cancer patients from remote villages access to medical treatment.

For more information on Ms Abdo and her goodwill projects, visit www.zeinaabdo.com.

rruiz@thenational.ae