The Freedom Climb began as a dream of something tangible that could be done to raise awareness and help give oppressed, enslaved women and children a voice. It took on a life of it its own as women from around the world heard about it. By January 11, 2012, there were 48 women from seven different countries who gathered in Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro — the world’s tallest free-standing mountain.
These 48 women climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise global awareness, prayers, and funds for women and children who are oppressed, enslaved, exploited, and trafficked throughout the world. Their purpose was to be a voice for the voiceless; for those who could not declare freedom in their lives and climb out of their circumstances on their own. The goal for the climb, and for 2012, is to affect the lives of 10,000 women through projects that break the cycles of poverty, shame, slavery, and despair.
In 2010, Hettie was raped when armed robbers broke into her house and kidnapped her husband. She participated in the Freedom Climb to be a testimony of victory for those women who are broken and have no voice. “I always thought that after a rape nobody could recover because we always see broken women who never really return to their former selves. But I am exactly my former self with a deeper knowledge of God … I have hope for these women. I don’t think they are beyond help.” ~ Hettie Brittz, South Africa
Why a Climb? The story of women from different cultures and countries climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro drew immediate interest. To date, it has garnered more world press coverage than was ever imagined, including a live interview on Fox & Friends.
Why Mt. Kilimanjaro? Its summit is Uhuru Peak. Uhuru means freedom in Swahili. Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, the largest mountain in Africa, was symbolic of the huge climb to freedom that millions of enslaved women and children face every day.
AFTER 144 GRUELING HOURS, WE MADE IT!
Throughout all six days of the climb, the 48 climbers experienced highs and lows. As they got higher up the mountain, it was harder to breathe because of the lack of oxygen at the higher altitude. But, they pressed on. They were united in their purpose of being a voice for the voiceless and speaking up for those who could not declare freedom and climb out of their circumstances on their own. They knew that God would get them through it, and He did!
Day 1: “Going to bed soon. Two country’s worth of African dust in my nose and eyes and my ankles are swollen into cankels and nothing is sufficiently charged and my stomach is going nuts and IT FEELS SO GOOD. I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT IT.” ~ Madison Baczewski
Day 2: “Oh my word!! Got up at 1am … and the night sky was indescribably exquisite. Wispy clouds floating across a waning moon. stars against a black night sky … the beast of the mountain stands majestically waiting for us. I think I saw God smiling down upon us.” ~ Cathey Anderson
Day 3: “Today we only climb for three hours … but it’s straight up!” ~ Cheryl Weber
Day 4: “My body is hurting. But doing extraordinarily well compared to how I thought I’d be …” ~ Madison Baczewski
Day 5: “We made it to the summit … Just now! It’s a glorious day. We’re doing great. It’s been very very difficult, but it really has been symbolic of all those who suffer and have no voice.” – Nancy Byrne (at the summit of Uruhu Peak).
Day 6: “We started at midnight, so we climbed all the night long, and it was cold … and straight up … I mean absolutely straight up. But it was dark, obviously, and it was just an amazing feeling for me when the sun just began to rise and there was light. But as I thought about our purpose here with human trafficking and people trapped in slavery and I thought about the women that are involved in sexual slavery and the worst time for them is night. And that was the worst part of the climb was the summit, and I just wanted to get through the night. I don’t know if you can compare that a little bit but when that light broke through and I could see what was left of the summit, it was phenomenal and then to reach the top and then to actually summit, you have another hour and a half to reach Uhuru, and that is the highest peak. That’s when you see the ice, and the glaciers and the snow, and it’s just phenomenal to think what you have accomplished.” ~ Holly Harris
OUR CLIMBERS SET TWO WORLD RECORDS!
1. They were the largest female group who attempted to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro together.
2. They were the first group of 48 or more women to have 90% of their group reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Guinness Book of World Records, here we come!