January 20, 2015
Press Release: Mission 14 Human Trafficking Awareness Month
BALTIMORE, MD (January 20, 2015) – There are more people in slavery today than at any point in human history. It is estimated that 35.8 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking, and that 1 in 5 of those enslaved are children. Mission 14®, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit, seeks to bring global awareness to the cruelties of human trafficking and its worst form - the trafficking of children. This atrocity can only be tackled by a monumental action, and Mission 14 is prepared to do just that by attempting to break a mountain climbing world record in 2015.
Starting in March 2015, Mission 14 Founder and CEO Nick Cienski, an expert mountaineer, will attempt to summit six (6) of the world’s highest mountains (8,000 meters or more) in a single calendar year. The current record is five summits in one year. Called the 6 Summits Challenge, the expedition will reach a global audience, allowing Mission 14 to use that platform to create worldwide awareness for the second largest criminal enterprise in the world – human trafficking. With the general public largely unaware or uneducated on the vast extent of this problem, Mission 14 is working to become a resource portal for information and fundraising organization for direct service partners who fight human trafficking every day.
President Barack Obama has officially proclaimed January 2015 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1. In light of the President's dedication to "build a world where our people and our children are not for sale,” Mission 14 is officially launching their endeavors to inspire an army of difference makers to join the global movement to eradicate human trafficking.
"Our goal is to inspire everyone to get educated on the issue of modern-day slavery and join us in this fight for fundamental human rights," said Nick Cienski, Founder and CEO, Mission 14. "Climbing mountains is what I know and raising awareness for human trafficking is what I am called to do, so I created a new and engaging way to accomplish this mission," Cienski continues. "Breaking this world record will attract significant media attention. While I have that spotlight, Mission 14 can increase awareness of the extent and horrors of human trafficking. Make no mistake, slavery exists today and it’s right in our own backyard.”
The 6 Summits Challenge will begin in Nepal in early April 2015 by climbing Lhotse, the world’s 4th highest peak and summiting in early May, followed by Mt. Everest in mid-May, and then Makalu, the world’s 5th highest mountain at the end of May. This fall, the team will summit Manaslu, Cho Oyo, and Shishapangma, the world's 8th, 6th, and 14th highest peaks, respectively.
Organizational Leader Russell Brice, world-renowned mountaineer, trek guide, and founder of the Himalayan Experience, will head the massive logistics and organizational requirements for the 6 Summits Challenge. Russell holds the world record for fastest single, solo ascent without oxygen of Cho Oyo and Ama Dablam. The head Sherpa for the expedition is Phurba Tashi, who has not only summited Mount Everest 21 times, but also holds the record for the most total ascents of the world's 8,000 meter mountains, summiting 35 times, more than anyone in the world. Sandi Cienski, Nick’s wife and Director of Operations for Mission 14, will provide ground support at all base camps by assisting with social media and photography.
Along with the 6 Summits Challenge, Mission 14 will launch the 70,000 Foot Challenge, a fundraising platform that encourages donors to pledge at least a penny for every foot climbed by Nick and his team. All donations made to the 70,000 Foot Challenge will be given directly to the organization's non-profit partners to assist in their direct-service efforts. The 6 Summits Challenge is funded solely by corporate sponsors and none of the donations made by the general public will be used for any part of the expedition.
Mission 14 is based in Baltimore, Maryland, a state where, according to the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, there have been 200 identified victims of trafficking since January 2013. Locally, Mission 14 partners with organizations such as Araminta Freedom Initiative, which works to prevent the sexual exploitation of minors, and Shared Hope International, which works to coordinate a national U.S. network of protection to improve the response to victims of trafficking. On an international level, Mission 14 is partnered with Catholic Relief Services, which eases suffering and provides assistance to approximately 100 million people in need across 93 countries, Nicaragua-based ORPHANetwork, works to rescue abandoned, abused, and orphaned children, Tiny Hands International, which operates 23 border stations on the Nepal-India border to rescue young girls and boys from being trafficked, and International Justice Mission, which rescues victims of violence, brings criminals to justice, restores survivors, and strengthens justice systems.
"Shared Hope International is honored to partner with Mission 14 in this innovative attempt to raise awareness about human trafficking, and funds to help make it history,” states Nancy Winston, Senior Director of Shared Hope International. "In the area of sex trafficking where we work, we see the desperate need to raise awareness, educate the public, particularly men, and become part of the solution by being brave and standing up for not just what’s right, but what’s fundamentally decent. We hope that following Nick and his team in their mission will be a reminder to not only defend the defenseless but to defend our spirit as human beings."
“Human trafficking is happening right here in our home towns, our neighborhoods and our backyards,” says Alicia McDowell, Executive Director of Araminta Freedom Initiative, a group working to end human trafficking in the Baltimore, Maryland region. “This is a serious and growing problem that needs a big, global platform. That is what is so wonderful about Mission 14 - they will allow for a much wider audience to learn about the horrors of these crimes and most importantly, see how even one person can really make a difference."
"Our work takes us to the poorest of the poor in many countries around the world where we see the faces impacted by human trafficking every day,” says Dr. Carolyn Woo, President & CEO of Catholic Relief Services. “We hope that the collaboration with Mission 14 on this exciting project will generate much-needed international awareness about this issue.”
About Mission 14 (www.mission14.org)
Mission 14®, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in 2011, was created to discover new and engaging ways to raise awareness, engage difference makers, and to financially resource existing best-in-class direct-service non-profit organizations dedicated to fighting human trafficking with a focus on the trafficking of children.
1 Kevin Bales, author of Disposable People
2 Walk Free Foundation’s 2014 Global Slavery Index.
3 U.S. State Department's 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report