Ambassadors of the Week: Poonam Thimmaiah and Shada Abuhattoum

Our Ambassadors of the Week are Poonam Thimmiah and Shada Abuhattoum, who both attended the One Young World Summit in 2014 in Dublin where they were inspired to create Climb.

Climb’s activities focus on breaking the silence on sexual violence, celebrating the triumphs of survivors, and empowering others to heal from their own experiences of sexual abuse.

On 22 August, a group of hikers composed of sexual abuse survivors and their supporters climbed the Drakensberg-Maluti Mountains in South Africa. This marked the first walk that Climb has organised in the country. 9 young people took part in the walk, but their impact was felt by everyone with whom they shared their stories.

“You don’t think it can happen to you. You don’t think it can happen to a child. But it happened to me,” said Wian De Beer, a survivor involved with Climb who spoke out for the first time in an interview with eNCA, a national broadcaster in South Africa. You can watch his testimony here, and hear from other participants here.

Climb is present in 11 countries across four continents and also offers educational community outreach programmes that aim to bring help to the daily physical and mental challenges that survivors face. The South African Chapter is managed by a young leader and survivor of sexual abuse, Florence Masetla.

"They wanted to show by an act of climbing a mountain the difficulties of living with the silence - in certain countries if you disclose abuse they would kill you", Florence reported.

Climb's activities are supporting survivors of sexual of abuse to break the stigma by telling their stories. Yusuf Omar, a journalist at the South African news outlet eNCA who attended the One Young World Summit in 2013 as a journalist, used mobile journalism to make the stories accessible and influencing the conversation about sexual abuse.

"Mobile journalism, or #MOJO, is storytelling using a cellphone," says Yusuf. He produced several features, a short documentary and did live reports over Skype from the Drakensberg hike using just an iPhone 6 and a selfie stick. "Shooting with a cellphone was far less intimidating and intrusive for rape survivors, rather than shinning bright lights and a big camera lens in their faces. Many were telling their story for the first time, and I wanted them to feel as comfortable as possible."

This is the first step in a long journey for Climb. Next year, they hope to conquer Everest Base Camp with a cohort of sexual abuse survivors and allies. You can find out more about the organisation by visiting http://www.climbagainstsexualabuse.com/