Fit Philanthropy: Climbing for CongoPosted on Mar 9th 2010 12:00PM by Deborah Dunham
Less than three years ago, Georgina Miranda couldn't even run a mile. Today, she is climbing not just one, but seven of the highest peaks in the world, including Mt. Everest, in support of the women and children in the Congo.
As a child, the Californian always dreamed of visiting the seven continents -- she never dreamed she would be climbing them. That is, until she was flipping through "Glamour" magazine one day in search of a new hairstyle. It was then that she came across an article about the plight of the women and children in the Congo and Uganda. "I was embarrassed that I didn't know anything about the horrific treatment that these people endured," said Miranda. "The fact that three out of every four women and girls are raped and sexually abused -- some as young as 11 months and as old as 75 -- is just unthinkable, yet it continues to happen over there every day. I knew I had to do something to help."
Having already done some indoor rock climbing and hiking of California's peaks, Miranda had the vision to use her passion for mountain climbing as a way to get involved. She contacted the International Medical Corps -- a global social services agency that provides medical and HIV treatment to women and children in this area, about setting up a program to climb the seven summits of the world (the highest peak on each continent) while raising funds to support the work this organization does. "These people are really selfless," Miranda said about the International Medical Corps. "They train local doctors and nurses, are building a health center, hold nutrition classes for mothers, educate community leaders about preventing sexual violence and talk to community members about ending alcohol abuse and rape."
The 29-year-old has already completed four of the seven summits, including Europe's highest peak, Mt. Elbrus in Russia on July 22, 2008, Australia's highest peak, Mt. Kosciuszko, on December 30, 2008, Africa's highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro on July 16, 2009 and Aconcagua in Argentina on January 10, 2010. Miranda also visited Uganda near the Congo border for a week last summer to meet some of the people she is helping. "It was really tough, but these women are amazing despite what they have been through," she said. "They opened up to me and told me I was their sister."
Next up is Mt. Denali in Alaska in May, Mt. Vinson in Antarctica in November and then Mt. Everest in the spring of 2011. Miranda's goal is to raise $2.2 million -- $50 for each foot she climbs. "The sexual violence over there has happened to hundreds of thousands of women and girls -- some who cannot even walk afterward, having to crawl many miles just to get help," said Miranda. "The money I am raising and the miles I am climbing are all for them. Any bit of pain or discomfort I am going through while climbing is nothing compared to what they're going through."
In addition to her treks and training for hours at a time on a treadmill or stairmaster with a weighted backpack, Miranda also ran her first marathon last year. To anyone who wants to make a difference in their own life or others', Miranda advised, "Just know that the extraordinary is always possible. Life is too short and we all have the power to make a difference!"
To take part in "Climb Take Action," visit www.climbtakeaction.com where you can donate funds or dedicate your next climbing, running, walking, hiking or biking challenge to this cause.
Inspired to climb? Try training for a vertical marathon!