An estimated 27 million slaves are in the world today—three out of four of them women. Eight hundred thousand people will be sex-trafficked this year; 80 percent will be female and 50 percent will be children.
With a passion to combat this oppression, 46 women from all over the world are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Kenya this week to raise awareness of global injustices against women and children. Starting Wednesday—National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the United States—the Freedom Climbers are united to be a voice for the voiceless, a mission that drives them on this journey.
The Freedom Climb, an initiative of Operation Mobilization, is raising awareness and funds to combat slavery, exploitation and global trafficking. This event is symbolic of the climb victims face in the struggle for freedom. The climbers hope to create a global movement to transform the lives of women and children, break the cycle of poverty, and provide freedom from oppression and slavery.
With the funds raised from the climb, they hope to impact 10,000 women and children worldwide by providing rescue and rehabilitation through skills training, micro-business and education.
“I talk to friends here in the States, and they say, ‘What can we do with such a huge problem?’” said Cathey Anderson, leader of The Freedom Climb. “I tell them, ‘We can all make a difference for one woman or child at a time! We can see freedom for them!”
Anderson was teaching sustainable farming to Africans in Malawi when she had the vision to get a small group of friends together to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and make a difference. In just a few months, that vision has grown to 46 women from all over the world, ranging in age from 18-73, who are committed to raising their voices and funds through their network of friends and family.
None of the 46 women are professional climbers, and some of them were victims of sex trafficking and other injustices.
Added Anderson: “Freedom for one woman will not only change her future but all the generations after her! We know we will not end slavery and human trafficking with this climb. We can, however, bring hope and an opportunity for freedom to women and children who currently have none.”
Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Its altitude, low temperature and occasional high winds make it a difficult and dangerous trek.
When asked why she wanted to commit to this physical challenge, climber and OM USA staffer Susan Woods said, “I believe God has invited me on the biggest adventure of my life as I turned 70 this year. I have the privilege to speak for those who have no hope or voice. It is a joy for me to join these other women.”
The summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro is called Uhuru Peak. Uhuru is the Swahili word for “freedom” and reinforces the hope that women and children worldwide can be free from their oppression.
In addition to the climbers, a prayer team will be at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro throughout the climb, not only praying for the safety and protection of the women climbers, but also for the various projects around the OM world that are reaching vulnerable women and children.