- A group of amputee-athletes successfully climbed Cotopaxi, one of South America’s toughest peaks.
- They’re part of the Range of Motion Project, a nonprofit that helps amputees climb mountains around the world.
- The nonprofit is hoping to raise $100,000 to provide 100 prosthetic limbs to those need.
On Saturday, a group of amputee-athletes successfully summited Cotopaxi, a 19,347-foot tall, heavily glaciated stratovolcano that’s also Ecuador’s second highest mountain.
It’s one of the most famous — and challenging — peaks in the South American climbing circuit.
The expedition is part of the Range of Motion Project (ROMP), a nonprofit organization that aims to improve the lives of amputees by outfitting those in need with the highest quality prosthetic limbs, and help them climb some of the world’s toughest peaks.
Nineteen members of the expedition, including 11 amputee athletes, made it to the summit around 6:15 on Saturday morning, Lauren Panasewicz, ROMP’s climbing director told Business Insider.
The Cotopaxi expedition is seeking to raise $100,000, which will provide 100 prosthetics to those who lack access to quality healthcare.
The team is comprised of expert climbers, like Jukes and David Krupa — ROMP’s executive director and an amputee mountaineer — as well as non-amputee experts and a host of local guides.
“Cotopaxi is big enough, bad enough, and intimidating enough to be a serious goal to train for,” Krupa said. “But it’s also reachable enough to be attainable, provided the team puts in the work.”
The expedition includes amputee climbers from Ecuador, many of whom have never put on crampons or scaled big peaks before.
“This team has been a year in the making,” Krupa told Business Insider. “It’s by far the most physically and mentally strong team we’ve had.”
‘I was going to climb come hell or high water after the amputation’
In 2006, Chad Jukes suffered a life-changing accident.
At the time, he was deployed in Northern Iraq. The truck he was driving ran over a buried mine, and the explosion destroyed his foot.
When he returned home, doctors told him he had a decision. Jukes could either have reconstructive surgery to repair his foot or get it amputated.
“They said if I opted for the surgery I’d be on pain medications for the rest of my life and could probably never run again,” Jukes told Business Insider in an interview from Ecuador’s Cotopaxi National Park, where he is serving as one of the expedition’s leaders.
To Jukes — who hails from Colorado and was an avid climber — that wasn’t an option. He went for the amputation.
“I was going to climb come hell or high water after the amputation,” Jukes said. “I was really excited to overcome those obstacles.”
The amputation didn’t slow him down. Since the accident, Jukes has summitted some of the most challenging peaks around the globe, including Mt. Everest. He recently led a group of veterans up Nepal’s Lobuche peak.
“Climbing big peaks is all about adapting to a hostile environment,” Jukes said. “For me, I just have to take that adaption one step further.”
‘People aren’t disabled by a missing limb, but by a missing prosthetic’
Jukes said he’d rather have a team member who has a positive attitude and is ready to push a little bit harder than someone who is stronger.
“Tenacity is crucial,” Jukes said. “Everyone in this group has had to overcome significant obstacles. Where people are usually complaining when things are hard, this group is smiling and laughing and pushing through that pain. That’s beyond important in the mountains.”
Climbing Cotopaxi is no small feat. It’s an active volcano that’s far taller than any peak in the continental US.
The team will have full mountaineering gear, and they’ll have to do an “alpine start” to attain the summit — that is, waking up around 11 p.m., climbing through the night, summiting at dawn, and returning to high camp in the afternoon.
Prepping for an expedition like Cotopaxi takes a lot of careful planning, and climbing with a group of amputee-athletes only adds to that challenge.
Krupa said part of his role will be repairing and adjusting team member’s prosthetic limbs as the climb progresses. He’ll have to carry a full pack of tools with him on the mountain to do so, and help coach team members modify their gait to cover steep terrain and negotiate tricky glacial features like crevasses.
“Many of the amputee climbers have told me their injury pushed them to explore new limits of their capacity,” Krupa said. “When we’re prohibited from something, we want to do it more.”
The team is hoping to summit the peak on Saturday, after training on a number of smaller peaks in the region , including summiting the 15,489-foot Rumiñahui Volcano.
Along the way, they’re hoping to show that amputees — given the right prosthetic — are capable of anything.
“People aren’t disabled by a missing limb,” Jukes said, “but by a missing prosthetic.”
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.