They were all ready to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for a good cause.
Seven people, including Ottawans Jo Ann MacMillan, Bob Rennick, Stephen Maine and Care Canada president Kevin McCort, were about to embark on a trip up the 19,300-foot summit next week to benefit a program that reduces the socio-economic impact of HIV/AIDS among women and youth in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.
But then the earthquake in Haiti happened.
But “in light of the emergency and the incredible need there right now,” the group will be redirecting their fundraising efforts – yielding at least $35,000 – for the earthquake relief effort in Haiti, said Kieran Green, a spokesman with the humanitarian aid organization Care Canada.
“There’s obviously a huge need,” said Maine, a first-time climber who works at Trend Micro. “The need in Haiti is immediate. It’s staggering.”
Climbing Kilimanjaro has always been a goal for Rennick.
“This is great,” he said. “I wanted to climb it and do something for a good cause at the same time.”
When the earthquake happened in Haiti, Rennick, realizing it was a far more urgent need, immediately suggested the money go to Haiti instead.
“Certainly, Haiti’s on everyone’s mind these days, so the opportunity to be able to help them is going to make fundraising much simpler for us,” said MacMillan, who is doing the climb to mark a milestone birthday.
Even before the earthquake hit, Care – which has offices all over the world – had 133 people on the ground in Haiti, said Green. There, they were engaged in projects like HIV/AIDS awareness, agriculture and reconstruction from the hurricanes that hit Haiti back in 2008. Because Care is already there, the organization is very well placed to respond, said McCort.
“All across the country, people are concerned about what has been happening in Haiti,” McCort said. “We get evidence of that everyday. People really do understand that this was an indiscriminate natural disaster. It has hurt everybody and the only possible response is humanitarian.”
As for the Ethiopia program, it will not be left behind, said Green. “There will be other fundraisers, other ways it will get funded.”