Nepal (MNN) — What would you do to help women around the world escape the sex trade?
Would you run a marathon, or bike across the United States? How about climbing part of Mount Everest? This mountain's peak is the world's highest point above sea level, and over 200 people have died trying to climb it.
But next month, 45 women from 13 different nations are undertaking Freedom Climb Everest. Not for fun, but for a cause: the Operation Mobilization (OM) Freedom Climb 2013. It's an opportunity to take a stand and be a voice for the 27 million people worldwide who are enslaved, oppressed, exploited, and trafficked.
The women will trek to Everest Base Camp and then summit Kala Patthar. Each climber has her own personal reasons for choosing to be a voice for exploited women. Meet the hikers and hear their stories here.
"Women around the world really do want to do something [about human trafficking]," says OM's Cathey Anderson. "This fills an opportunity for those women who like to climb big mountains: they like being able to step out in faith, they like this platform of allowing them to be a voice for those being exploited around the world."
In addition to preparing themselves mentally and physically for the Freedom Climb, hikers were also asked to raise funds. Each woman was encouraged toward a goal of $10,000 for OM projects.
"We do this trek to bring awareness, but we do the trek as well to bring funding," says Anderson, "so that the people who are on the front line, that are actually ministering to these women who have been oppressed trafficked, exploited; that they have the funds to keep going."
OM has several programs that empower women and combat modern day slavery through prevention, rescue and rehabilitation, and development. Click here for a complete list of the projects supported through Freedom Climb.
While it's too late to make this year's climb, there are a number of ways you can still get involved. You could sponsor one of the women climbing on this year's ascent, or one of the projects helped by Freedom Climb.
Click here to download a Freedom Climb prayer guide from OM that corresponds with the mission of Freedom Climb. Pray for safety, good health, and favorable weather for those climbing.
Start raising awareness by talking to your co-workers about the issue. Or, you could share this story on Facebook to get your friends talking about it.
"Once you start opening up your eyes and becoming aware, then all of a sudden everywhere you go, you see it; and everywhere you go, you hear it," says Anderson. "That would be my prayer: ask the Lord to open their eyes and make them aware."
"You can't have an army of one…. To have an army, all of us need to be united in this purpose; everyone has to ban together," Anderson states.
"And if everybody just did one small thing, I think we would make a tremendous difference in the world."