I’m not sure what age I was when the question first came to me, but I remember asking it as I sat and stared at an image of a little girl with a mud-caked face dressed in rags, holding her little brother, who was equally dirty, “Why wasn’t that me born there?” The question hung in the silent space in my head as the speaker went on to describe the diseases and poverty ravaging the people of this 3rd world country.
Fast forward 10 years, and I’m sitting in an open air kitchen in the mountains of rural Costa Rica where I was teaching English for a year. Next to me was my host sister, Patricia, who spent the whole of her entire days lacing baseballs. You know those red strings that hold baseballs together? Well, I know the hands that tie them. At the time, the baseball players in the United States were striking because their millions were not enough. Patricia, on the other hand, was sewing an entire baseball for twenty-five cents per ball, something that would take her hours to complete. Twenty-five cents. And again, an alarm went off in my head. It wasn’t fair, and it wasn’t right. I found myself once again asking, “Why wasn’t that me lacing baseballs for 25 cents an hour?”
To this day, I still wrestle with that question, and now it is even on a grander scale. Why am I not the woman living in a shipping crate, trying to escape the oppression and war of her country? Why am I not the mother who has to make the impossible choice of which children to bring with her on her journey to attempted freedom, and which to leave behind? Why am I not the wife who sees her husband killed, and then becomes a victim of violence and terror herself? Why am I not the woman who cannot pray in public because it would mean her life?
I don’t know.
But that isn’t me. I wasn’t born in any of those circumstances, or those countries, and those are not the heavy burdens I bear. I was born into privilege, abundance, and freedom in the United States.
But it could have been me. Or you.
And if that were me, I would want someone to care enough to act. I would desperately want someone to help. I would beg someone to DO SOMETHING.
So when Belinda Bauman called and asked me to be a part of One Million Thumbprints and join a team of 16 to climb Mt.Kilimanjaro on International Women’s Day on behalf of women who are victims of brutal violence in the most war torn countries of the world, I knew in my heart that I had to say yes.
But it was a hard yes… really, a WILD YES.
Questions and barriers swirled:
Will my heart be able to handle the altitude? (I have tachycardia)
Will my knees hold up? (I’ve had most of my meniscus removed in both knees)
Will I get altitude sickness at 20,000 ft.?
How safe is it to go to Refugee camps in dangerous areas before the climb?
And what about malaria? And yellow fever? And typhoid?
And that just covers logistics of the trip.
Then there is, who will care for my family when they need to be fed, carpooled, counseled, and helped when my husband is at work?
How much risk is too much when you are a mom caring for your own children?
The questions came one after the other, covering me with their weight. But what really showed up, as big as Mt. Kilimanjaro itself, fueling all of these questions and more was one thing: FEAR.
Growing up, I was not a fearful person. I would go so far to say that I was very brave. Then I had children, and suddenly my heart was walking around in the world. Motherhood seemed to birth in me a fear that was born out of protection for them.
Through the parenting years, as I’ve struggled with fear to varying degrees, there is something I’ve learned about the true nature and character of fear: it does not control outcome, and it completely robs joy, growth, and life from whatever it touches.
As I worked through my decision to say yes to this opportunity, I had to look fear in the face and declare myself free from it’s grip.
And that is exactly what One Million Thumbprints is striving to do – release women from the bondage of fear, oppression, and shame. These women, who have been victims of unspeakable violence, live in paralyzing fear. And of course they do, so would we.
Someone has to help them look fear in the face. And someone must help them rise from the ashes of their lives and reclaim dignity. And someone must help them gain skills and capital to go and make a living for their families.
And I believe that someone to be me, and I believe that someone to be US.
Would you consider joining me in helping these women? The donations we are collecting will be used to fund on the ground operations that are caring for and empowering women to reclaim their lives.
You will be directed to my climber page and you can
Or Text 71777 and write Krista in the message.
If you want to organize a local climb up a mountain in YOUR area on March 8th in solidarity with One Million Thumbprints, go to onemillionthumbprints.org and sign up to do that!
Thank you so much for joining me on this journey.
I know we can make a difference on a global scale TOGETHER.
It’s the only way we can!
Sexual violence in conflict zones is a serious, present-day atrocity affecting millions of people, primarily women and girls. One Million Thumbprints (1MT) is a grassroots campaign seeking to catalyze a groundswell of people focused on overcoming the effects of war against women through storytelling, advocacy, and fundraising.
1MT’s response is two-fold: advocating on a global level, urging the UN and other government leaders to follow through on resolutions that protect women in conflict zones, and funding programs on a local level through our implementing partners in three of the most dangerous places to be a woman – the Democratic Republic Congo, South Sudan and Syria/Iraq. The best way to help women in conflict is to protect them, promote peace and community, and empower educational and economic drivers.
ONE MILLION THUMBPRINTS.