I have some pretty amazing friends. They give in big ways, though it might not always be obvious. Some are a quiet presence of love and support. Some are out giving boldly and changing the world with their voices.
And then there are some like Chelsea Hudson, a friend and fellow social good blogger, who will climb mountains to make sure another woman’s story is heard.
In about 6 weeks, 15 women (and one man!) of varying ages, stages and professions from across America are converging at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania’s “mountain of light.” They will share in a daunting but exciting 5-day journey through 4 climate zones, over 38,000 steps, to summit at just over 19,000 ft on March 8th, International Women’s Day.
Each of them has a slightly different answer to that question, but all have come because of one woman’s plea to “tell the world” about the violence she and her sisters in war zones have experienced and continue to experience.
Three years ago, One Million Thumbprints founder, Belinda Bauman, sat in the presence of several survivors of sexual violence in the DRC. One woman’s story, her petition, has since ignited a new movement of peacemakers.
Esperance, a woman from a small village in the Congo, watched her husband die at the hand of rebels. She was violently raped and would have died if her sisters hadn’t rescued her. Across a blank sheet of paper, Esperance, who cannot read or write, had her pastor write the words: “Tell the world.” Then she stamped her thumbprint underneath. Esperance’s thumbprint became Belinda’s mandate: violence against women in war is violence against me.
One Million Thumbprints (1MT) is a grassroots campaign that is joining forces with companies like World Relief, Today’s Christian Woman, and WE International. 1MT seeks to aid women who’ve been affected by sexual violence in warzones in two specific ways: 1) Advocating the UN and other governing bodies to follow through on resolutions and laws passed to protect women in conflict zones. 2) Partnering with and building the capacity of proven organizations already on the ground in these countries. These programs meet practical needs (food, clothing, shelter, and trauma assistance), help stabilize communities (through training in negotiation and peacemaking) and provide sustainable long-term solutions (such as economic and educational development, micro-savings and micro-finance, farming co-ops, and refugee resettlement).
“Esperance asked us to ‘tell the world’ about the violence she and her sisters experience in war zones. If climbing to the top of Kilimanjaro will help amplify her voice and plea and help ‘tell the world,’ I am honored to make this trek in solidarity with my sisters, near and far.
I am a woman, a mother, a sister, a daughter. And these precious women living in war zones are sisters, mothers, daughters. I will never know what it is like to watch my husband gunned down in front of my eyes and then brutally raped. But this is the reality of over 17 million women in our world today. My teammates and I have come to this climb to stand with these women and amplify their voices and stories. Women for women. I really dig that.”
~ Chelsea Hudson, Climber
1MT’s inaugural event, the Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb for Peace, is an effort to raise awareness and funding for programs on the ground in Syria/Iraq, the DRC, and S. Sudan through their implementing partner, World Relief.
If you haven’t gotten involved with the campaign yet, it’s not too late. You can donate your thumbprint (your voice) online, give a gift to the campaign, and share about this important event and cause on your own social media outlets.
Let’s stand together, and do what Esperance asked: Tell the world that violence against women in war zones must end.