46 women climb Kilimanjaro to combat slavery

The camp, at 8 940 feet, where the women climbers rested after the first day of the Mount Kilimanjaro climb.

An international team of 46  women — including nine from South Africa — started climbing Mount Kilimanjaro this week to raise awareness and funds to combat slavery.

The women are being supported by a 10-woman prayer team, interceding for them at the base of Africa’s highest mountain — the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Most of the prayer team members are from South Africa.

With an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today—three out of four of them women — the woman climbers are responding to a great need. Eight hundred thousand people will be sex-trafficked this year; 80 percent will be female and 50 percent will be children.

The Freedom Climb, an initiative of OM, is raising awareness and funds to combat slavery, exploitation and global trafficking. This event is symbolic of the climb victims face in the struggle for freedom. The climbers hope to create a global movement to transform the lives of women and children, break the cycle of poverty, and provide freedom from oppression and slavery.

With the funds raised from the climb, they hope to impact 10 000 women and children worldwide by providing rescue and rehabilitation through skills training, micro-business and education.

“I talk to friends here in the States, and they say, ‘What can we do with such a huge problem?’” said Cathey Anderson, leader of The Freedom Climb. “I tell them, ‘we can all make a difference for one woman or child at a time! We can see freedom for them!”

Anderson was teaching sustainable farming to Africans in Malawi when she had the vision to get a small group of friends together to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and make a difference. In just a few months, that vision has grown to 46 women from all over the world, ranging in age from 18 to 73, who are committed to raising their voices and funds through their network of friends and family.

None of the 46 women are professional climbers, and some of them were victims of sex trafficking and other injustices. Among them, Hettie Britz, a Pretoria mother of three, survived an armed robbery at home in 2010, during which her husband was kidnapped and she was raped. They testify of the Lord’s presence, care and healing during and after the ordeal, and they share a message of forgiveness and fearless feeedom. Britz said she wished to participate in the Freedom Climb as a testimony of victory and as a means to stand for those who could not yet echo her testimony of freedom and wholeness.

Ellenore van den Heever, a Pretoria medical doctor with a passion for fighting for the rights of the vulnerable, caring for the marginalised and contributing to creating a better environement for all, has left behind her 5-months-old baby to join the expedition. The oldest South African woman climber is Cynthia Courtney, 62, of OM.

OM USA staffer Susan Woods, 70, had this to say when asked why she wanted to commit to this physical challenge: “I believe God has invited me on the biggest adventure of my life as I turned 70 this year. I have the privilege to speak for those who have no hope or voice. It is a joy for me to join these other women.”

The committed prayer team members at the base of the mountain are not only praying for the safety and protection of the women climbers, but also for the various projects around the OM world that are reaching vulnerable women and children.

The summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is called Uhuru Peak. Uhuru is the Swahili word for “freedom” and reinforces the hope that women and children worldwide can be free from their oppression.

To follow The Freedom Climb, which began on Wednesday (January 11), visit www.thefreedomclimb.net and sign up for email updates. It is a six-day climb.

  • Pray Freedom Booklet available from OM
    OM has published a 12 week prayer guide that takes readers to the slave hotspots of the world. Colourful and filled with stories and information to help Christians pray for those caught in this modern day scourge, the booklet costs just R10 (excluding postage). Pray Freedom can be ordered from your local OM representative or by contacting Herman Lamprecht at herman.lamprecht@om.org or 012 345 5441


  1. Congratulations to these great ladies who successfully completed their assignment: http://thefreedomclimb.wordpress.com/

  2. The SA ladies in the Kilimanjaro adventure arrive back at OR Tambo at 7.15pm tonight.