Climbing for the Jogini Girls in India

OM International | Australia

On 22 August, 150 people gathered at Moogerah Dam in South East Queensland, Australia, for the inaugural Freedom Climb event in the town of Boonah. The arduous trek to the summit of Mt Edwards was made by 93 climbers, while 13 more progressed to the first lookout. The remaining participants enjoyed the ambiance of base camp.

Climbers came from the local area, and from Brisbane, about an hour away by car, and ranged in ages from 10 to 79 years old.

“Every participant was filled with the desire and determination to do what they could to raise awareness and funding for the Jogini girls of India,” noted one team leader. The Jogini girls, sometimes as young as seven years of age, are dedicated to the temple goddess. Thereafter they become trapped in a life of ritualised prostitution.

Participants enjoyed a bake stall, a market stall showcasing hand-made goods from the project, a sausage sizzle, henna art, face painting and a kids’ club programme. A team prayed for the climbers and for the Jogini girls and the work in India throughout the event. Prayers were answered, as paramedics had a quiet day, with no injuries reported.

At 09:00 the first team of five climbers began ascending Mt Edwards, followed by other teams at 10-minute intervals. Progress was monitored by team leaders, and marshals offered encouragement and support to help the climbers summit.

Climbers carried a slave profile card that shared the story of a person caught in modern-day slavery and human trafficking. They also carried a pouch of sand, which was poured into the palm of each climber after they had a time of reflection. The women then scattered the sand over the mountain as a symbol of declaring freedom for those who have no voice, and proclaiming that their lives are not worthless.

As a result of the climbers’ and supporters’ hard work, determination and generosity, the event raised over $10,000 AUD ($7,200 USD), with donations and sponsorships still coming in.

“All involved played a vital role in bringing hope to the hopeless, giving a voice to the voiceless, and being a part of transforming the lives of Jogini girls in India,” said Kate Rodwell, director of Freedom Climb Australia. “With five more climbs taking place over the next six weeks in Australia and New Zealand, it is encouraging to see a grass-roots movement of people wanting to partner with OM to make a difference in the lives of women and girls caught in human trafficking, oppression, exploitation and modern-day slavery.”

For more information about the Freedom Climb in Australia, visit the website here.

Published: Thursday, 17 September 2015
Credit: OM International
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