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UAE expat scales Jebel Jais 7 times to help blind women

Sharjah - The 42-year-old Sharjah resident covered a distance of nearly 9,000 metres, surpassing the height of Mt Everest above sea level.

By Saman Haziq

Published: Thu 28 Jan 2021, 9:54 AM

Last updated: Thu 28 Jan 2021, 9:56 AM

On Australia Day on Tuesday, expat Scott Melgaard did something ‘unusual’. He biked up and down Jebel Jais mountains — seven times in 33 hours, all for a noble cause. He wanted to give sight to hundreds of blind women in developing countries.

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With such an incredible feat, the 42-year-old Sharjah resident covered a distance of nearly 9,000 metres, surpassing the height of Mt Everest above sea level. He was able to raise Dh27,000 for an Australian charity, the Fred Hollows Foundation, which will use the fund to help restore the sight of almost 300 women.

A science teacher at Victoria International School of Sharjah, Melgaard became the face of his school as he personally took up the fundraising campaign for Australia Day. He started the challenging ride at around 1pm in the afternoon and finished it the next day at 9.45pm.

Melgaard said his school regularly ties up with the charity every year for fund-raising. However, the campus had been facing issues this year because of the pandemic, so he stepped forward and embarked on the extreme adventure.

“I decided to do something unusual to mark Australia Day, as we are living in unusual times because of the pandemic crises. One of the major push behind this project was living and working with people of so many nationalities,” Melgaard said.

“Since I am from a small rural area in Australia and was restricted to only a very small community, I was amazed at the multiculturalism I witness here in the UAE. I worked with people of different nationalities, such as Pakistanis, Indians, Syrians, and coincidentally the charity Fred Hollows foundation is also working in some of these developing countries. This made me reflect that the money that will go the charity will in some way benefit the communities of my lovely colleagues.”

The funds were donated to the charity’s global ‘She Sees’ campaign, which helps restore the sight of more than 300 women and girls in developing nations.

Melgaard, who is also a triathlete, said that since he teaches science to students in Grade 6-12, he decided to wear different shirts representing each grade in each of the seven laps. “The idea was to represent the seven senior school classes that I teach by climbing the mountain seven times from the base to the summit on my bike and cross 8,848 metres, which is the height of Mt Everest.”

Melgaard thanked his wife, three kids, teachers and students who had come to Jebel Jais to cheer him on and motivate him to achieve his target as he biked day day and night uphill and downhill, at times under freezing temperatures, without a minute of sleep.


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