Seven Summits Women Team , world first female group to climb the highest peak in each continent, now in a mission to empower young female survivors of sex trafficking by helping them become licensed trekking guides in Nepal.
This training program based in Nepal and is led by Everest climbers Maya Gurung and Shailee Basnet. A decade ago mountaineering started as a personal challenge for us. But a few years ago when we met the young survivor sisters, lives were about to change. They found a platform, we found our purpose.
The survivor sisters were tricked into trafficking during their early teens in the pretense of education or jobs in India. One of them was only 12. They fought everything from forced sex work, malnutrition, torture to even prison time. Yet at such tender ages they found courage to make an escape, risking their lives.
Once back in Nepal, prestigious non-profit working against trafficking called 'Shakti Samuha' provided them protection, shelter and rehabilitation. However, because of lack of education and job skills, the survivors were stuck in low-paying jobs without a prospect for a career or growth.
Moreover, the society held stigma against them. They were yet again stuck in another trap.
Starting 2014, Seven Summits Women Team started providing them holistic training that helped them heal, empower and find a career in the trekking industry.
Three survivors have now earned their trekking guide license. The young girl once trafficked at 12, is now a kick-ass 22 year old mountain guide. Hear her testimony:
Miss TK, Freelance Trekking & Mountain Guide, 22:
'I was a petite young village girl that no one expected anything from. Thanks to the Seven Summits Women Team , after their guidance, today I guide western clients in the Himalayan peaks. Previously I used to make less than $100 in a month, now I make that in a few days. I'm making more money than anyone around me can ever imagine. Today I support my family, and send my siblings to school. I feel confident about my future for the first time in my life. People in my village used to look down on me, now young girls say they want to become like me. I cannot wait to give the same opportunity to younger survivor sisters. This is true empowerment.'
Shakti Samuha shares with us that in their decades of work, this is one of their best success stories ever.
Following the great result of the pilot training, and a big demand, Seven Summits Women Team launched Female Leadership Academy in 2022.
In this program, the trainees get extensive language, leadership and outdoor training to help them earn their trekking guide license.