Facilitator Olfat Haider’s Extraordinary Journey to the South Pole

In November 2012 one of the Outward Bound Peacbuilding facilitators, Olfat Haider, will join a group of six women from six continents who will embark on an 800 mile, 80-day long expedition to the South Pole. As part of the Access Water 2012 program, these women will represent key water challenges on their respective continents. The expedition aims to raise awareness of water issues in addition to empowering women and girls to achieve their goals and make a difference.

Born and raised in Haifa, Israel, Olfat is a Program Manager at Beit Hagefen, an Arab-Jewish Center in Haifa. She holds a B.Ed in Physical Education, a B.A. in Geography and Environmental Studies from the University of Haifa, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Gender Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv, Israel. Olfat has also been involved in several projects promoting peaceful co-existence between Jewish and Arab youth in Israel, including leading and facilitating numerous multicultural and multi-ethnic groups of various ages in wide-ranging projects and initiatives. As a certified Outward Bound instructor, former and only Arab member of the Israeli national volleyball team, and facilitator for the 2009 Young Social Entrepreneurs Program supported by OB Peacebuilding and Search for Common Ground, Olfat is a wonderful choice as the Middle East representative to this team of inspiring women in a trek to the South Pole.

Olfat aspired to this 80-day journey because of her interests in the outdoors, education, and her desire to make a difference in the world. Olfat recently spent three weeks in Norway training for this expedition. Though the cold will certainly be a challenge to this native of Haifa, this is not Olfat’s first challenging journey to Antarctica. In 2004, Olfat, along with three other Palestinians and four Jewish Israelis, sailed to Antarctica from South America as part of the project Breaking the Ice, an expedition that included the first successful ascent of a peak now named “Israeli-Palestinian Friendship Mountain.”

Olfat sees this new opportunity as a way to demonstrate that women can make a significant impact in the world, to highlight the importance of caring for nature, and to bring awareness to the Arab-Jewish Conflict. OB Peacebuilding will disseminate news of the expedition starting in November when Olfat starts her remarkable journey to the South Pole with two renowned polar explorers and educators and six extraordinary women from different continents and generations. For more information on the trip, check out YourExpedition.com.

To read a great article on Olfat on Haaretz, click here.