'I was too afraid to leave the house and now I’m wanting to climb Mount Everest'
William Baartman is among a dozen climbers hoping to raise money to help children suffering with burn wounds by climbing the world's highest mountain later this year.
At the age of three‚ his home was petrol-bombed by protesting students because his father was an Afrikaans teacher. He sustained 75% burn wounds and lost his younger sister‚ Grace‚ in the fire.
Now head of the Avela Mentorship Programme‚ Baartman hopes to raise R75‚000 to inspire others who were once like him.
“I was too afraid to leave the house because I was scared of what others might think and now I’m wanting to climb Mount Everest! I hope to send a message to those hiding from the world‚ that there’s hope for them‚ hope they think doesn’t exist‚” he said.
The climbers hope to raise funds to refurbish Kimberley Hospital’s burn ward in the Northern Cape and launch Avela's Umatter support network‚ a psychological support network for burn survivors and their families.
About three percent of the South African population annually sustains serious burn injuries. According to the Avela Foundation‚ a non-profit organisation founded in 2015‚ 68% percent of SA children younger than 14 have experienced scalding burns. The foundation's founder‚ Cami Palomo‚ has assembled a team to accompany her on a journey to Base Camp‚ on Mount Everest.
In collaboration with the Smile Foundation‚ 12 individuals are planning to begin their journey to Kathmandu‚ Nepal‚ at the end of April. The climb is expected to take nine days‚ starting on May 2.
They have so far generated a total of R411‚793 towards their target of R2-million on crowdfunding site Back-a-Buddy.