Seven South Florida women are preparing to do their part to raise awareness and money to fight human trafficking by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
The numbers are staggering. Approximately 800,000 people will become victims of human trafficking this year -- and 80 percent of those will be women.
Those figures are according to "Freedom Climb," a group dedicated to raising awareness, and money, to help fight against human trafficking.
"Now it's the fastest growing industry in the world, yielding over $32 billion annually," said Lysa McMillan, one of seven South Florida women joining Freedom Climb in their mission.
To help fight this multi-billion dollar industry, which they say is built literally on the backs of women and children, 46 climbers from around the world will ascend Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro.
Their struggle to the top is eerily reminiscent of another struggle endured by millions daily. "To get to the top of that mountain, to be able to speak out and represent all these women and girls who are trying to climb out of the slavery and oppression that they're in," said Cindy Rine, another member of Freedom Climb.
For 18-year-old Madison Baczewski, the youngest member of freedom climb, the thought of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, is a daunting one.
"I'm very intimidated, but I'm very excited because I know it's the most satisfying way I could spend winter break," said Baczewski.
Each of the seven women has raised $10,000 to contribute to the cause. The goal is to help over 10,000 women and children, step out of the shadows of slavery and oppression.
"We're raising resources. In a place where we have so much freedom with finances and resources, all of us say, 'Why not? Why can't all of us help? Why can't all of us do something?' '" said Lori Degler, the local group's de facto leader.
The group flies out Jan. 8, and they'll be on the mountain from Jan. 11-16. You can follow along on their website, Thefreedomclimb.net .
Two additional fundraisers are scheduled for early December. The Freedom Climb Concert will be held Dec. 3 in Pompano Beach, and Let Freedom Sing, a unique evening of the arts, will take place on Dec. 5, at the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center.
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