Meet our Everest Base Camp Pioneers: Halima Nawaz

Halima Nawaz has been fundraising for IKCA ever since she can remember. She’s been there with us every step of the way, watching us grow. Having re-conquered the 3 peaks with IKCA year after year, she is now ready to brave our biggest challenge yet, the Everest Base Camp Challenge.

Nothing short of a super woman, Halima has already raised over £12,600 for two cancer patients at Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital. We sat down to chat with her about her fundraising efforts for IKCA and her training routine for the Everest Base Camp challenge. 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

My name is Halima Nawaz, I am a British Pakistani. I live in England with my family and I work as a Chartered Accountant. I was born and raised in Yorkshire. My interests vary greatly: from travelling to rug hooking, from baking to crochet and axe throwing to reading and writing, I enjoy many activities! Of course, I enjoy nothing moreso than walking in nature most especially, for a great cause like the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital.

Tell us a bit about your fundraising efforts for IKCA. 

I have been an IKCA volunteer since I was 8 or probably more like since I was 3; my father has been fundraising with Imran Khan since before the hospitals were opened. I have seen this charity grow from its foundations into now nearly 3 hospitals; I have seen the generosity and open hearts that have poured out their donations year after year to keep this hospital and its patients thriving.

This charity is home to me; attending fundraisers before the first hospital opened in 1994 was an integral part of my childhood. Back then, I contributed by way of whistling and clapping at Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan fundraiser concerts, and today, I contribute by fundraising for and participating in the outdoor challenges with IKCA. I also attend and sometimes speak at fundraising and donor feedback dinners in the hopes of finding fellow nature lovers from inside the beautiful IKCA supporter family to come join us on these challenges and raise funds at the same time.

In November 2013, for the first time, I visited Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital in Lahore. I was given a tour of the hospital and coming from England, I am ashamed to confess that I expected a hospital in Pakistan to be less. I could not have been more wrong. The hospital facility and the grounds are absolutely stunning; I confess I had tears in my eyes walking through the hospital, seeing the state of the art equipment and learning about how all patients are treated equally, no physician knows whether the patient is fee paying or sponsored through donations, there are no “VIP” rooms and regardless of your worldly status, every patient is treated with the same care and receives treatment in the same rooms. I would encourage everyone who is a longstanding donor of IKCA to visit the hospital and see where your donations go.

Do you take part in challenges like this regularly? 

Every year, IKCA organise hiking challenges including the UK 3 national peaks, the 3 Yorkshire peaks and also the Tour de Salah which is a bigger cycling challenge in which many charities as well as individuals participate in London. I’m afraid I’m not an adept cyclist but I’m an avid hiker; you will assuredly find me on all of the IKCA walks and keenly pushing for us to venture further afield; Everest! Of course the ginger infused masala chai that sometimes welcomes us at the start of the trek is a bonus!

Can you tell us about some of the more memorable hikes/treks you’ve completed to date? 

The most memorable hiking trip in recent times was our 3-day training weekend away with the IKCA Everest Base Camp Challenge 2018 team. We packed our bags and met up in Wales not really knowing what to expect. We were really put through our paces, walking through all sorts of terrain – from scree to thick soft squelchy marshes, from slates to rocks, from rocky grass to ridges, each day walking for 8-9 hours and returning utterly exhausted. We were on a strenuous training programme prepared and led by the brilliant Mr Abdul Qayum, Co-Founder of the Kramblers (Kashmiri Ramblers) Society. Each morning we woke up expecting to wince in pain but Alhamdulillah, each day we were pleasantly surprised by our body’s ability to rest and recover overnight. With each passing day, I could witness clearly how everyone’s confidence was growing, how much we were all bonding, looking out for one another, it was truly an unforgettable experience.

We are a team spanning the age range of 27 to 76 and if it’s one thing I learned over these 3-days its that you should never underestimate anyone, especially not yourself. The human body is a marvel and my greatest takeaway from this trip was not to underestimate my body’s capability and I feel immensely grateful for the blessing of health and being able bodied. This is what makes us remember why we are doing this in the first place – with every challenge and step we surmount, we remember those who scale life’s much tougher terrains and climbs, we raise funds and pray for the patients in Shaukat Khanum to heal, recover and resume a healthy lifestyle. Each day in Wales, we would pray our salah on top of a summit. We hope and pray that Allah accepts our efforts and helps IKCA to raise funds and continue the life saving work that it has done for almost 25 years.

Have you done a lot of training to prepare for the Everest base camp trek? If so, what did this training involve?

I’m lucky that I live in Yorkshire so there is plenty of opportunity for hill walking which is the best sort of training for this type of trek. Walking for an hour or two or walking whilst sightseeing on holiday is immensely different to hiking on uneven terrain for 8+ hours. I tried to use the treadmill on incline and the stair-climber at the gym but I confess that I loathe the gym and any form of indoor exercise and it wasn’t
enough to simulate my days in Nepal on the trek. You need to be confident in your body’s ability to hike on uneven terrain for 6+ hours day after day.

This trek is 14-days. The best form of training is to get outside one day every weekend for at least 3 months prior to this type of trek. Ideally you should start training more than 6 months in advance because it takes time to break in new boots and begin to understand the materials you should be wearing, the concept of layering your clothing and packing the right equipment for your day hike. I think a lot of people initially (myself included) underestimate hiking and think it’s just a ‘walk in the park’ – I’m here to break that delusion, it most certainly isn’t! You need to be aware of your surroundings, navigating the path and keeping to a good pace, keeping hydrated and energised with the right snacks. Stretching before and after your hike is also incredibly important to keep your trek as injury and strain-free as possible. We are very lucky that one of our team member’s is a former Personal Trainer who leads us to stretch well at the start and end of each day.

Why did you choose to take part in the Everest base camp challenge for IKCA? 

It’s been my dream for a long time to see Everest and hike in the Himalayas. This opportunity was a God-send – to be able to travel and hike in the beautiful Himalayas for a cause that is so close to my heart and home.

Tell us a bit about your Justgiving page. 

My brother and I are doing this trek together and we’ve undertaken to sponsor two patients currently undergoing treatment at Shaukat Khanum hospital; 4 year old Rana Zaman and a young lady (22) suffering from colorectal cancer, Usmania Bibi.

Show Halima your support by donating to her fundraising efforts on her JustGiving Page.


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