Monday 3rd May to Saturday 22nd May, 2021
Student $5, Adult $10

BOONAH FREEDOM CLIMB – SUPPORTING PROJECT FREEDOM

2021 brings us to our 7th year of The Boonah Freedom Climb, raising valuable funds that make a difference in the lives of women and children who are at risk of human trafficking, exploitation and modern-day slavery. All proceeds raised go to Project Freedom in Cambodia.

Project Freedom is based in Phnom Penh. The project aims to support the vulnerable who are living in slum dwellings and surviving on minimal resources and money. Our social workers aim to improve the mental and physical health of vulnerable groups in Cambodia, particularly women and children that are vulnerable to trafficking.

About Project Freedom

2021 – A VIRTUAL EVENT

Once again, this year we are participating in a VIRTUAL challenge of 20 k’s in 20 days. You can choose whether you run, walk, cycle, hike or swim (the list is endless) your 20 k’s over the 20 days from May 3rd to May 22nd, 2021. You could even mix it up and do something different each day! Get your creative hats on, because we want to see some great pictures of how you choose to complete your 20 k’s.

CHOOSE YOUR CHALLENGE!

For some people, 20 k’s in 20 days is a challenge, for some people 100 k’s in 20 days is a challenge! Choose a challenge that works for you – in your own time, at your own pace & in your own space! Just don’t forget to login to your fundraising page to log your k’s and share your progress to raise sponsorship for your efforts.

Don’t feel like 20k’s is enough of a challenge? Then CHOOSE YOUR CHALLENGE! Simply state your challenge as a goal on your fundraising page and start logging k’s towards your chosen total!

DETAILS

Boonah Freedom Climb – 20 k’s in 20 days

DATE: Monday 3rd May to Saturday 22nd May, 2021

TIME: Whenever you want!

WHERE: Wherever you want!

COST: Adult $10; Student $5

REGISTRATION/SPONSORSHIP

You can register as an individual or as a team, you can also raise sponsorship funds individually or as a team. All sponsorship received over $2 are tax deductible (not including registration fees).

HOW DOES IT WORK?

  1. Register – as an individual or as a team
  2. Set up your fundraising page (either individual or team)
  3. Personalise your fundraising page with a photo and the reason why you are participating
  4. Share your fundraising page with your friends and family to spread the word – awareness is HUGE!

HOW DO I COMPLETE MY 20 K’S IN 20 DAYS?

How. Ever. You. Want! You can run, walk, cycle, hike or even swim your 20 k’s. You can walk around your house yard, hike a mountain, walk the dog, walk around your town, cycle on your exercise bike. You can complete your 20 k’s in whatever way you have available to you. You can do something different every day if you want! You can do 5 k’s one day and have a few days break. This is designed to be very flexible so ANYONE can participate!

Don’t forget to sign in to your fundraising page every time you complete your k’s to log your progress. You can share this to Facebook so your friends can follow your progress too! Each registered participant can log their k’s individually, even if you are a part of a team.

Keep fit and healthy, and have FUN virtually, while raising valuable funds and awareness for at risk women and children in Cambodia.

Don’t feel like 20k’s is enough of a challenge? Then CHOOSE YOUR CHALLENGE! Simply state your challenge as a goal on your fundraising page and start logging k’s towards your chosen total!

SAFETY TIPS

  • If exercising outdoors, always tell someone where you are going
  • If exercising outdoors, always take a phone with you
  • Ensure you have/take appropriate water and food with you
  • Ensure you have/take appropriate medication before, during and/or after exercise
  • Ensure you have the appropriate medical approval before undertaking exercise
  • Please observe all relevant Covid-19 restrictions applicable in your state
  • If under 18 years of age, exercise with an adult
  • If using exercise equipment, ensure it is in proper working order before using it

TOGETHER we can make difference in the lives of the women and children of Cambodia, TOGETHER we can be a voice for the voiceless, and TOGETHER we can help to put a stop to the atrocities of modern-day slavery and human trafficking!

CONTACT US

Email: boonahfc@ordinaryheroes.org.au

Facebook: Boonah Freedom Climb

Tracey Mob: 0407 118 397

Vicki Mob: 0438 008 260

PROJECT FREEDOM CAMBODIA

IN A NUTSHELL

Year project established: 2002
Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Project Categories: Social & Family Development, Community Health
Beneficiaries:
– Children at risk
– Families of child victims
– Families affected by domestic violence

PROJECT SUMMARY

Project Freedom was established to bring freedom to children and families caught up in poverty and oppression. It is a social work and rehabilitative project that helps children and families from abusive and/or exploitative backgrounds, as well as those who are seeking to break out of the poverty cycle.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

While Cambodia is emerging from decades of unprecedented human calamity, economic and social poverty, oppression and exploitation is still widespread across the country. Approximately two out of ten Cambodians live below the poverty line (World Bank, Feb 2014). The tragic reality is that the legacy of destruction and assault continues to affect the most innocent and vulnerable of Cambodia’s people, its children. Countless children throughout the country are being sexually and physically assaulted in their own homes and villages, as well as being trafficked for sexual or economic exploitation. Many Cambodians also still live in a situation of poverty in urban and rural slums, where prospects are bleak and the family unit is under threat.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

Project Freedom aims to minister to the suffering and oppression faced by the poor in Phnom Penh – by improving the spiritual, mental and physical health of vulnerable groups in Cambodia, particularly families and children. Currently our social workers work amongst slum dwellers in the area of Phnom Penh, where they are surviving on minimal resources and money.

MAIN TARGET BENEFICIARY GROUPS

Children-at-risk: Most of the reported cases of sexual abuse and exploitation occur among girls, at an age when they are experiencing physical growth, but have limited skills to protect themselves or seek help.

Families of child victims: Many of the child victims are abused by people within their own community. It is clear therefore that children are most at risk from family members, neighbours and boyfriends. Project Freedom reaches out to families in poor communities to empower, educate and help them raise their children in a healthy way.

Families affected by domestic violence: The prevalence of violence in Cambodian families is very high. About one out of six women in Cambodia is affected by domestic violence. Project Freedom reaches out to families who suffer from domestic violence, and works with spouses to help them resolve conflicts in a constructive and peaceful way. Project Freedom also reaches out to the children of these families, to help them overcome their trauma.

PROJECT’S MAJOR FOCUS AREAS

Counselling: Counselling is provided to victims of child abuse and domestic violence.

Social work: Our social workers offer social services to the community and clients that participate in our training programmes.

Child safety: Training is provided to children, working closely with their parents and school teachers, to raise awareness on topics such as abuse, domestic violence and safety.

Domestic violence protection: Training is provided to raise awareness of child abuse and empower children and families to improve their lives.

Hygiene habits: Training is provided to children and adults on hygiene topics.

Hospital & medical assistance: We assist clients in need of critical medical services, through the use of MTI’s Medical Emergencies Fund.

Coming Soon!

UPDATES FROM PROJECT FREEDOM

MAY 2021 UPDATE

In recent conversations with Johan and Lenie, group leaders of Project Freedom, provision of food to the people living in the slums continues to be their primary focus. They report that there have been many outbreaks of COVID 19 in Phnom Penh recently. Authorities have designated COVID hotspots as red zones. This means that people living in this zone are unable to leave their houses and must remain isolated and in lock down. Project Freedom were designated an orange zone which meant that they could move around only with permission from authorities.

As of yesterday (7/5/2021) Johan reported that some travel had been permitted. This saw many poorer people fleeing to the provinces. This movement resulted from people not having enough money to pay the rent for their houses and therefore being evicted. Similarly, people who were also unable to pay their utilities had vacated their homes before debt collectors came searching for them.

Project Freedom are continuing to provide a daily meal for hungry people in the slums. They provide staples such as eggs, fish, rice, garlic and soy sauce. Many people within the slum community access the cooked meals daily. Desperate people have resorted to selling themselves or members of their families to men to make money. Their vulnerability is also preyed upon by individuals who seek to exploit their desperation for their own financial gain. It is Project Freedom’s hope that by providing food and support to these families they will not be forced to make desperate choices that put their families at increased risk.

Vuthy’s Family

On Sunday, March 15, 2020, at the end of a workday, 340 men and women, working for a foreign building company to build one of the high-rise buildings in Phnom Penh, were called to the office to get their half month payment. The chief project leader sadly announced that they had to cease work on the building project. He said that all the foreign project leaders had to return to their home countries before travel between countries was closed due to COVID-19. Many of the other large construction companies had to do the same.

Vuthy, his wife Jaan and their eldest son had been employed by this company for 6 months and then, suddenly, it all came to a halt. They had lived before without a job for many years, and now they were thrown back into the same situation. Vuthy and Jaan thought they could survive again, but they had not counted on the amount of people, also without work due to COVID-19 restrictions, desperately trying to earn an income. They struggled to earn money.They began collecting garbage items from the garbage bags in the street, to sell for recycling and to get a little money.

As thousands of others without work were doing the same, it was difficult to find enough recyclable garbage to sell so they could buy enough food for their family of 7. Vuthy became more and more depressed. He and his 3 sons continued to work very hard to provide for his family. He often worked late into the night searching for garbage items that he could sell. Jaan tried to find people that would pay her to do their laundry. She did the washing with the help of her 2 daughters.

However, this work also became hard to acquire later in the year, as many other poor families did the same. Cambodia was not so affected by the first wave of the Covid19 virus and the economy was still running like normal, only schools and churches were closed. But in March 2021, there was a larger outbreak and the Government put strict rules in place and closed-off areas. The government run facility where people living in slums could go to get some food, was closed as well. Vuthy had started drinking and his oldest son began to hang out with friends who used drugs. The little money that Jaan could earn with the laundry was taken by Vuthy to buy alcohol and the oldest son often stole money to buy drugs.

The situation was desperate.

For many days the family had nothing to eat. In desperation the daughters said they could get money from older men if they slept with them. First Vuthy and Jaan refused, but Vuthy gave in as their daily struggle to survive with very little food, and his need for alcohol became too great. Jaan was alone now in her protection of the girls, but she gradually became weaker in her spirit and in her health. She got sick due to a lack of food, and continual hard manual work. After a while she was not able to work anymore.

Then Vuthy asked the girls to sleep with more men so that the family could buy food and medicine for their mother, Jaan. They did but some men were violent and beat them. Then Vuthy took his girls to many brothels to ask for work. The girls became prostitutes to help the family to survive.

Currently, the new COVID- 19 restrictions have forced the closure of brothels. So now the family is in a desperate situation again.

MARCH 2021 UPDATE

Food has become a precious, hard to find commodity in the slums around Project Freedom.

In recent weeks, a number of deaths linked to COVID have resulted in the Cambodian Government introducing strict COVID protocols.

It is compulsory to wear masks, main roads have been blocked by checkpoints to prevent movement around the country, schools and many businesses have closed. This has caused loss of jobs for many skilled and unskilled Cambodian workers.

Fear is very prevalent. Prior to COVID desperate people could access food from a government funded and run food distribution centre. Due to the increased fear surrounding COVID outbreaks this centre has been closed which has added another level of desperation to an already tenuous situation.

Project Freedom has stepped into the gap!! They are currently providing a daily freshly cooked meal in the two slums closest to the compound. The number of people accessing this support has increased dramatically from an average of 40 people per day to 180 people. As the COVID situation becomes more desperate they anticipate this number will continue to increase. In two slums further away, Project Freedom are also sending a small truck with food that is distributed by trustworthy team members. This is to ensure that those identified as most in need are cared for first.

In addition to provision of food, Project Freedom are also caring for the sick by providing transport to the hospital and paying for their hospital costs.

This gives a huge amount of hope to people that are struggling to feed their families even once a day. Many are crying and full of joy because they are receiving help and support.

Project Freedom report that the level of vulnerability and desperation has pushed people to take drastic measures to feed their families. While Brothels are officially closed, Illegal prostituting activity has not ceased. Desperate families are preyed upon to sell their young daughters for prostitution. Sickeningly, clients pay more money for young girls.

It is a vicious cycle that many who live in the slums face daily. For many the rules imposed by the authorities are more dangerous to their wellbeing than COVID itself. They have to make choices for their families that are dangerous both for their safety and health. The reality is that without money they are destitute. They cannot access food, education or healthcare. Their risk of being taken advantage of has increased exponentially.

Project Freedom is continuing to be a beacon of hope within the slums. They are feeding and caring for people’s daily needs, which, in time, will result in increasing financial pressure if the COVID restrictions remain in place. They refuse to look away and are committed to being part of the solution.

DECEMBER 2020 UPDATE

COVID 19 continues to make life very difficult for people living in the slums. Work is scarce, food is limited, and children’s attendance at school is sporadic. Elderly people are suffering from lack of care and food. Children are left at home or on the streets while parents desperately look for work.

Tourism has dropped dramatically in Cambodia. The number of both skilled and un-skilled people now looking for employment has increased exponentially. Cambodians are still attempting to cross the borders into other countries in their search. Many have no papers and are prime targets for trafficking.

Project Freedom are sending their teams into the slums to bring food relief, educational packs for the children, provide health care and take people to the hospital when needed. The project leaders have reported that although they continue to maintain a strong presence within the slums, they are not always alerted to the needs of specific families and individuals that are in desperate need. This has resulted in people dying, who could have been helped, had Project Freedom known of their plight.

Project Freedom will continue their Child Safety program in the 4 provinces they have been working in. This program provides valuable training for parents and children around the dangers of human trafficking and the signs to be aware of. Knowledge is power and providing children with strategies to keep themselves safe reduces their risk of being trafficked. Project Freedom is keen to extend their program into a further 2 provinces in the months to come, extending their outreach to a total of 6 provinces.

SEPTEMBER 2020 UPDATE

The funds from Boonah Freedom Climb – 20k’s in 20 days has recently arrived at Project Freedom! Johan, Lenie and the Project Freedom team were incredibly thankful for the hard work and generosity of all who supported and participated.

Currently, Project Freedom has been sending teams into 4 slums on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, close to the Project Freedom compound. Each team is providing prevention/child safety training to parents and children around the dangers of trafficking and the signs to be aware of. Project Freedom is also keen to invest in education to the provinces in the coming months. Currently they are supporting 3 provinces, but would like to increase this to 6 provinces.

Covid 19 continues to prevent children from accessing the Project Freedom school. Education Packs continue to be distributed to the children in the slums. Project Freedom is continuing their existing visits into the slums to support families during this uncertain time.

Work is scarce and many families are struggling to make ends meet. These pressures have a direct impact on domestic violence, trafficking and abuse. People attempt to cross the borders into other countries without border identification papers seeking work. They are desperate and are easy to take advantage of.

APRIL 2020 UPDATE

Things are not too bad in Cambodia, officially there are 122 cases, 28 in Phnom Penh, and zero deaths because of COVID-19.  Currently there is a travel ban between the provinces and the city during the Khmer New Year Celebrations in April to limit the half of the population that would usually travel from doing so.

All schools are closed for a month and religious and social meetings are forbidden.  Project Freedom are continuing to help vulnerable children with the distribution of homework packets for the English class and bible stories so they can study at home.  Social Workers are helping the poor people with food and medical assistance.

Shops & markets are still open, as well as the big garment factories where hundreds of thousands of girls (and boys) are working, so the economy is still going.  There was a plan to close down for 3 months, and some factories wanted to close completely and move to another country.  However, the government has made it possible for supplies to continue to come from China, and factories can continue to operate as usual – as long as there is no major outbreak of Covid-19.

All bars, casino’s and brothels are closed.  However, there is concern that this is making it harder for the girls who are trafficked and exploited to ear a lot of money for their captors.  It is likely they will be forced to work in secret places under much harsher circumstances

Where the Boonah Freedom Climb Began

Meeting the Jogini women of India, while on a vision trip in 2013 was the catalyst for beginning the Boonah Freedom Climb.

Who is a Jogini woman you might ask?  A Jogini is a woman or young girl who is dedicated to the goddess Yellamma, then sold for sex when they reach puberty and condemned to a life of ritualized prostitution.  It is their religious duty to provide sexual favours to the men of the community. Girls are initiated without their consent and usually do not know or understand what becoming a Jogini involves.  When they are no longer useful, they become outcasts within their own community.

Visiting the shelters that provided a safe place where counseling, medical care and education could be provided for these women and girls was inspiring.

Upon returning to Australia, I felt what I had seen in India demanded a response.  When I shared my experience with my friend Tracey, we decided that we not only COULD do something, but that we WOULD do something.  We ran a movie night in our small town to raise funds and awareness for the plight of the Jogini women and girls caught in sex slavery and oppression.  We were incredibly excited by the number of people that attended, and by the number of those who wanted to know more.  We were so inspired, that we decided to continue to share this story and raise awareness for these women & children.

The following year, the inaugural Boonah Freedom Climb was held.  The beautiful Mt Edwards, on Lake Moogerah in the Scenic Rim was the perfect place to hold the climb.  It was on the mountain that people would struggle, hurt and work together to reach the summit.  It was a climb that reflected the lives of the women and children they were climbing for….a life of constant struggle where no matter how much they try they cannot escape the oppression, abuse and poverty they are in…. they can never reach the top.

After a couple of years supporting the Projects in India, and due to circumstances out of our control, Boonah Freedom Climb was no longer able to send funds to India.  This was a difficult time.  We spent time reflecting on the reason why we began the climb in the first place, and the words of Cathey Anderson, the founder of The Freedom Climb initiative, continued to speak to our hearts.

“My wish is that all women and children would know their God-given value and worth. They are not objects to be used for financial gain or personal satisfaction. They are uniquely and wonderfully made, and no one should take that intrinsic knowledge away from them. We will keep on being a voice for each one of them.”

We decided that we couldn’t just give up – we could still be a conduit to making a difference in the lives of women and children caught up in oppression, abuse and poverty.  Tracey and I began to seek God’s direction for a new project that Boonah Freedom Climb could support and invest in.   When it came time to decide, we realised that that Project Freedom in Cambodia had been on both our hearts – and so became our answer.

In 2017, we were given the amazing opportunity of visiting Project Freedom.  We were in awe of the amazing work the leaders, counselors and volunteers were able to do in the lives of women and children.  It still astounds us to think that someone could be so desperate for food or for medicine that they feel their only option is to sell their child or themselves.  The vulnerable are tricked into thinking they will go to a better place and live a better life, but unbeknown to them, they are trafficked to other countries and sold for bonded labour, prostitution, work for minimal or no wage and oftentimes are beaten.  Our trip to Cambodia has had both a lasting and personal impact on us, and has confirmed, more than ever that there is a huge need among the Cambodian people.  We realised that whatever we could do – no matter how insignificant it seemed, would go a long way for Project Freedom and the people they support.  It would also go along way in the fight to end human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

It is safe to say that every Boonah Freedom Climb we have hosted has been incredibly different.  We have had difficult times and many moments of incredible blessing. Most importantly, we have had the joy of meeting many people willing to share the vision of Boonah Freedom Climb and become agents of change in our world today.  Every person has played a vital role in bringing hope to the hopeless, giving a voice to the voiceless, and they have stepped out of your comfort zone, so that they can be a part of tranforming the lives of women and children in Cambodia.

OUR CHALLENGE – THEIR FREEDOM!

Let’s climb Virtually

Boonah Freedom Climb 2020

Life is strange!!!  Who would have thought that at the beginning of 2020 we would be dealing with a pandemic and life, as we had known it, would be so altered!  So what was Boonah Freedom Climbs’ response ……LET’S GO VIRTUAL!!

And so it was that Boonah Freedom Climb evolved from climbing a mountain to completing 20 k’s in 20 days.  We were unable to climb together but we could still make a difference together….it was a Boonah Freedom Climb  where participants could walk, hike, swim, run, ride their bikes, all in their own space, at their own pace and in their own time!

We had people registering from all over Australia.  Children as young as 8 and elderly people in their 80’s joined the journey.  150 people completed 20k’s in 20 days in a myriad of ways, and the support and funds raised were truly humbling.


A Year of Celebration

Boonah Freedom Climb 2019

In 2019, Boonah Freedom Climb celebrated 5 years of climbing for Freedom!!!  We celebrated this special milestone by hosting the “Five for Freedom Dinner” and our 5th Boonah Freedom Climb.

We celebrated God’s faithfulness and covering that had enabled Boonah Freedom Climb to grow each year, without incident.

We celebrated the commitment of our climbers, both leaders and participants, who struggled and hurt to climb a mountain to raise valuable funds and awareness.

We celebrated our local community that have consistently supported us by sharing our story through media, advertising and participation.

We celebrated the partnerships with our local and Brisbane church communities that had embraced the vision of Boonah Freedom Climb and given freely of their resources and time.

We celebrated the vision of Operation Mobilisation and Mercy Teams International that have committed to care for and minister to the community of “The White House” in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.


A Renewed Vision

Boonah Freedom Climb 2018

Following our trip to Cambodia, with a renewed spring in our step, we began planning for Boonah Freedom Climb 2018.

It was our desire for Boonah Freedom Climb to provide our climbers with increased opportunities to reflect upon their purpose for climbing.  To support this, not only did our climbers carry their  Slave profiles but we also began the “Ring of Freedom”.  This was created to give each climb group time to rest and reflect on their “why” as they climbed the mountain.   It provided each climber with a small resource that they could use to tell others of their Boonah Freedom Climb experience.

It was an incredible year on the mountain.  God’s grace had been sufficient and we had been transformed.   Hearts had been inspired and Project Freedom had been blessed!


 A Year of Reflections

Boonah Freedom Climb 2017

Our third Freedom Climb was a time of difficulty and incredible reflection.   We had been running Boonah Freedom Climb for a couple of years….the spread sheet was in place,  we knew what it took to run the climb but we were struggling.  It had become more about the numbers climbing and funds raised than about those we were climbing for!!   We were going through the motions of Boonah Freedom Climb.  We were questioning ourselves….Where we still meant to be doing this? Had Boonah Freedom Climb run its course?  Was it time to move on?

That year we had 183 people climbing.  We had assumed that the more people who climbed would equate to increased funds being sent to the project, but that wasn’t the case.  We had were learned some hard lessons that year.

The other blessing that occurred for We after Boonah Freedom Climb 2017 was the opportunity to visit Project Freedom in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  We were feeling a little overwhelmed, searching for our future direction for Boonah Freedom Climb and it was during this time, walking through the slums of Phnom Penh that our hearts were reset and the fire reignited.  We came back to Australia humbled, inspired and reinvigorated.


A Heart for Cambodia

Boonah Freedom Climb 2016

In 2016, due to restrictions in sending funds to India, the Project supported by Boonah Freedom Climb needed to change.  After much thought and prayer both We felt that Project Freedom in Phnom Penh would become our new focus.  Project Freedom really spoke to our hearts.  Situated between slums on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, this project provided education, counselling and rehabilitation for women and children who had been trafficked or were struggling with domestic violence in their homes.   It also provided much needed food and medicine to families too poor to support themselves.

What thrilled us most was that Freedom Climb funds were used to support individuals and families on case by case basis.  The funds were used to help individuals at their greatest point of need.


The Journey Begins

Boonah Freedom Climb 2015

The very first Boonah Freedom climb was held on the slopes of Mt Edwards in 2015.  We had answered the call to climb a mountain to raise awareness and funds to enable women and children, caught in the horrors of human trafficking and modern day slavery, to be released and restored.  Boonah Freedom Climb was a step of faith and a symbol to our community that 1 person could make a difference.

105 people accepted the challenge to climb for Freedom.  It was an incredible of time

Each of our climbers carried a slave profile card, enclosing the real life story of a person caught in the oppressive grip of modern day slavery and human trafficking, as well as a small pouch of lifeless sand.  After they had had a time of celebration and reflection, lead by each groups’ leaders, the sand was poured into each climbers’ palm and then scattered over the mountain as a symbol of declaring freedom for those who could not declare freedom for themselves, and that their live are NOT worthless.

It had been an intense time of preparation, prayer and planning.  The outcome was an incredible First Boonah Freedom Climb!  It also gave our climbers the chance to raise valuable awareness and funds and to be part of the solution to human trafficking and modern day slavery.

Coming Soon!

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