In 1997 I had my life saved by a Médecins Sans Frontières doctor in a tiny hospital on the border of Namibia and Angola. Twenty years later I'd like to do my bit to help them save people in dire need in Iraq. Medical shortages and a lack of doctors are one of the major problems facing the victims of conflict in Iraq, particularly in the northern region. My particular focus is on the valuable midwife units in Domiz refugee camp and recently liberated Tel Afar. The Domiz unit has delivered around 1,000 babies since it was set up, and the Tel Afar one is focussing on an area that has been under the terrible occupation of ISIS/Daesh for more than two years. MSF also do vital emergency work to support victims of the Mosul offensive.
I'm dragging my good friend Kavout with me and together we're going to scale the highest mountain in Iraq - Mt Halgurd. 3,607m/11,834 ft. For those pedants among you, it's not the highest peak in Iraq - that honour belongs to Cheekah Dar - but it is the highest mountain entirely in Iraq (and it's only a handful of metres lower than Cheekah Dar and carries a much lower chance of being kidnapped or blown up by a mine, which is what sold it to us).
Kavout and I are disorganised and unfit. We have flights, willingness and rumours of assistance to find a guide, but ultimately we're winging it. For security reasons I'm not publicising the date of our climb in advance, so if you'd rather wait until after we've done it to donate then we completely understand. If, however, you would like to give us some motivation to get up the thing (friends may remember tales of me sobbing my way up Mt Stanley on my 'honeymoon') then we would very much welcome it.
Oh and please don't tell my mum about this. She thinks I'm going to the South of France and won't get a minute of sleep if she hears the truth before I'm back.
UPDATE: My mum knows about it now. I can't keep anything from her. Please distract her until I'm done...