Climbing for Freedom: Women Train at Broward College WHC Campus to Raise Awareness to Human Trafficking
Imagine being held against your will, forced to participate in criminal activities, perform arduous tasks, sexually violated and deprived of basic necessities. This is the life of a human trafficking victim, many of whom are women and children that have found themselves trapped in situations of this nature largely because of economic reasons. Described as modern day slavery, trafficking in persons, or human trafficking as it is more commonly referred to, occurs in every country across the world. While international organizations and governments work to find solutions, it is the work of many non-profit organizations that has been most impactful. By working in smaller groups and concentrating their efforts in communities, they are reaching victims, and potential victims, who require the financial and emotional support that comes with freedom.
It was with this in mind that the Freedom Climb was conceived and launched by the late San Diego, CA resident Cathey Anderson. Four years later, the idea has now advanced into a global movement called the Freedom Challenge. Women who participate raise money on behalf of victims by participating in physical challenges such as scaling the world’s largest mountains and running marathons. The organization works in 118 countries and uses each fundraising event to target special groups and countries. It employs a multi-pronged approach of tackling the issues of human trafficking at different levels, including, prevention, development, rescue and restoration.
This year, 67 women from South Florida, including Nancy Botero, vice president for advancement at the Broward College Foundation, have joined forces to raise funds for the Jackson Hole Wyoming Freedom Challenge 2016. With the largest number of participants to date, the South Florida team has raised over $40,000 which will go towards victims in 30 countries. On July 31 the ladies will join a group of 100 women made up of rights activists, survivors of domestic abuse and other leaders for the challenge.
For Nancy and many of the participants, the walk is symbolic of what the victims of human trafficking have to go through. The physical challenge of the climb is a sign of solidarity with the victims and their desire to overcome their challenges. As part of its preparation, the South Florida contingent met last weekend at the WHC campus in downtown Fort Lauderdale for a training session. Participants used the 12 story stair case in building 31 for two hours of physical drills and stair climbing to building strength and endurance. They were also given safety tips and advice on how to prepare for the climb.
“When I found out about the climb I instantly felt compelled to participate and be a voice for those who can’t speak up. I saw this as another way of supporting the American dream which isn’t just a job for me but my life’s work,” said Nancy Botero as she spoke with representatives from Noticias 57 who had come to observe the training.
With just weeks to go before the 2016 Freedom Challenge, the challenge doesn’t stop with this climb. You can support the South Florida team or individual participants as they raise funds and awareness for the challenge by donating.
Before the end of the summer Freedom Challenge will also embark on a new call to action in South Florida through the formation of community groups called Freedom Circles. Groups of 12 women will raise funds, awareness, and enlist volunteers who will work to combat modern-day slavery and oppression both locally and internationally all year long. If you are interested in joining or starting a Freedom Circle, contact The Freedom Challenge