Skip Navigation
Alex D'Jamoos at Mt. Kilimanjaro
Preparing tomorrow’s leaders – your future depends on them

Summer job: show kids with disabilities that nothing is impossible

Alexander D'Jamoos, an International Relations and Global Studies sophomore in the College of Liberal Arts, spent his summer climbing Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro. Born in Penza, Russia, he grew up in an orphanage for children with disabilities. At age 16, he was adopted by an American family and moved from Russia to Texas, where he learned how to walk on prosthetic legs. His goal is to show other disabled orphans in Russia – and countries throughout the world – that nothing is impossible or unreachable.

For the past five years I have volunteered as a translator and a 
spokesperson for Happy Families International, a NewYork-based
 organization that aims to formalize adoption of Russian children in 
the United States and help children in Russian orphanages
 adapt to adult life.

 

 

 

This summer I volunteered to participate in the organization's trip
 to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The purpose of the trip was to 
demonstrate that children with disabilities have the ability to
 overcome great challenges. I was somewhat unprepared to 
climb Africa's tallest mountain. Prosthetic legs are very difficult 
to use in such extreme conditions.

We took the Marangu route, which includes three different camps 
at different heights and takes about six days of hiking to the summit.
 Due to my completely unathletic lifestyle and under-preparedness,
 I set the second camp as my goal. After a day of acclimatization 
at the altitude of 12,000 feet I decided to go further to the 
third camp. The last day I reached the third camp at the altitude of 
16,000 feet.

Overall I hiked the distance of 26 miles in four days on prosthetics.
 The trip was the most difficult challenge of my life. The organization
 plans to use photos and videos from the trip at fundraisers in Moscow 
and New York to raise money for disabled children in Russian orphanages.
 I truly hope this trip can serve as an effective message that physical
 disabilities are by no means a barrier to achieving your dreams! 

 

People hiking towards Mt. Kilimanjaro

 

Related links:

http://www.utexas.edu/student-summer-series

Learn more about how UT Austin is Preparing Leaders