Alice Hiatt is an extraordinary woman. One of the top three finalists of this year’s Diva Visionary contest, she is a humanitarian, mountain adventurer, educator and healer.
This Visionary is all heart, and soul. Raised in southern California and originally a surfer chick, Alice’s early work as an acupressurist took her around the world on cruise ships.
In her career as a psychiatric nurse, she saw and implemented the benefits of combining Western and Eastern Medicine long before it was a trend. The mother of two grown sons, Alice divides her time between teaching at the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley (where she developed various program curricula and designed eight courses), her private practice and running her own NGO. Hope Through Opportunity benefits the Tanzanian village that has welcomed her as a sister, adviser and medicine woman.
An avid mountaineer, Alice uses her expeditions as fundraisers to buy medicines, food and supplies for her village, a local hospital and hundreds of orphans in the area. For fifteen years she has also made an annual pilgrimage to New Orleans for their Jazz Fest and considers the music so strong as to be “a rite of passage.”
When Hurricane Katrina hit, Alice organized another fundraiser to help friends of hers there who had been of such great support to her over the years. Michael Reed Gach, friend and founder of the Acupressure Institute, has said that she works and lives in, “the spirit of celebration in the form of healing and renewal… always challenging both herself and others.”
Having traveled to 112 countries, Alice plans to summit the world’s seven highest peaks on all seven continents. In preparing for her first, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Alice walked across England the previous year. She most recently spent time hiking in the Andes with friends and a Peruvian shaman, and then scaled Mt. Everest. She will be horseback riding across Mongolia in the summer of 2008!
Currently her NGO, Hope Through Opportunity, has a New Years Eve Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb in the works. Each of the ten climbers are raising funds for a 40-foot container of medicines and medical supplies to be delivered and donated to Huruma Hospital in Rombo, Tanzania, immediately after the expedition. Thousands of people have already donated money, clothing, beds and ultrasound machines. The 300-bed hospital serves tens of thousands of people, yet is often without running water, electricity and basic supplies. They are deeply in need of equipment of all kinds.
Direct Relief International in Santa Barbara is providing an additional container to help in the relief effort. Future projects will develop infrastructure with the building of a well as the first project. The hospital, solely with the help of Hope Through Opportunity, will be moving towards self-sufficiency, rather than its current state of dependence on water companies that charge too much and cut off the supply when bills cannot be paid.