Highlands & Islands

'Linda's pride' at young Afghan climber's achievement

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Media captionLinda Norgrove's legacy for young Afghan climber

A Scottish aid worker killed in Afghanistan would have been proud of the achievements of a young female Afghan climber, her parents have said.

Linda Norgrove, 36, from Lewis, was seized by rebels in September 2010 and later killed during a rescue attempt.

In August this year, Hanifa Yousoufi became the first Afghan woman to climb her country's highest mountain.

The Linda Norgrove Foundation gave funding to Ascend, the US charity that supported Hanifa's climb.

Image copyright Linda Norgrove Foundation
Image caption Linda Norgrove was killed during an attempted rescue in 2010
Image caption Lorna and John Norgrove say their daughter would have been proud of Hanifa's achievement

Accompanied by two guides, the 24-year-old climbed to the summit of 7,492m (24,580ft) Mount Noshaq.

As well as being the first woman Afghan, Hanifa was only the fourth Afghan to climb to the top of the mountain.

The Linda Norgrove Foundation is run by the aid worker's parents John and Lorna, who still live in Lewis in the Western Isles.

Image copyright Ascend
Image caption US charity Ascend supports Afghan women's participation in sports
Image copyright Ascend
Image caption Climbing in the Afghan mountains is among the pursuits assisted by the charity

Mr Norgrove said Hanifa, who trains and climbs with a group of about 70 women, faced huge challenges growing up.

He said: "I think Linda would have been impressed with what Hanifa has done.

"Hanifa had an early marriage where she was married off to somebody she didn't know at the age of 15.

"He subsequently proved to be abusive. She was rescued by a family and spent two years virtually not going out."

Image copyright Ascend
Image caption Ascend's work has received support from the Linda Norgrove Foundation
Image copyright Ascend
Image caption A group of about 70 women meet up to train and climb
Image copyright Ascend

Hanifa learned to read and write before, through involvement with the sports charity Ascend, setting her sights on climbing Mount Noshaq.

Mr Norgrove said for Hanifa to realise that ambition was "fantastic", and an achievement "Linda would have loved it".

Mrs Norgrove said the education of girls in Afghanistan beyond some early years schooling had been close to her daughter's heart.

She said: "I think she was very frustrated by the fact that so many girls were not allowed to continue with their secondary education."

Hanifa told BBC Scotland that scaling the mountain had been challenging, and had involved traversing deep snow.

She said the charities were offering women in Afghanistan the chance to realise their "dreams and ambitions".

Hanifa added that she would one day "love" to visit Scotland and climb its mountains.


Who was Linda Norgrove?

Image copyright Linda Norgrove Foundation

The 36-year-old devoted her life to helping to improve the lives of others, say her parents.

She oversaw a USAID project set up to create jobs and support economies in fragile areas of Afghanistan.

Linda was kidnapped in Kunar on 26 September 2010 and died in an attempted rescue by US special forces on 8 October.

A joint UK and US investigation found that she was killed by a grenade thrown by one of the American soldiers.

Linda's parents set up a charitable foundation in her name to support projects that help girls and women in Afghanistan.

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