Sara Safari's Story
I was standing on top of the highest point in the World on May 20th, 2022. I could look around and see the whole world spread out before me. The whole Himalayas range was visible, running up the spine of the continent for hundreds of miles. The view was majestic, gorgeous, and I was standing at 29,032 feet above sea level with roughly less than half the normal amount of oxygen in my gasping lungs. But most amazing of all to me was how good I was feeling. I waited 9 years for this moment and I could not believe this is it. I was crying tears of joy, and every cell in my body was dancing from happiness and fulfillment.
9 years ago, I promised myself that I will summit Everest but in my first attempt, in 2015 I was stuck in a 7.8 earthquake at 20,000 feet on Mt. Everest. It was the scariest experience of my life. You might ask me why did I do such a thing? Well, I promised to raise funds and awareness for the girls who become victim of human trafficking or forced to get married at a young age. You might ask why am I so passionate about this cause? Well, I grew up in Iran and experienced first-hand the oppressive, restrictive environment that makes gender discrimination possible.
I confess that working in Nepal in these past 9 years have been among the most fulfilling, satisfying, and joyful experiences of my life and also the most challenging and traumatic. After the earthquake I was very traumatized and I was not sure if I ever could go back to the mountains. I kept thinking about all the Nepali girls and how they life might be after the earthquake. I felt extremely guilty for surviving it.
The earthquakes were absolutely tragic and devastating, but this is what we got from the universe, and I accept that. Mother Goddess Sagarmāthā, also known as Mount Everest, didn’t want me up there in 2015, and I accepted it fully with all my heart. So, I train more and went back stronger and not just summitted Everest but summitted the seven highest peaks on seven continents to raise funds and awareness for seven nonprofit organizations that are empowering women globally.
In the past nine years I have collaborated with several organizations globally that are active in the field of women’s empowerment, but after finishing my PhD research I was determined to utilize tools from my research to take empowerment to its next level. That’s how my nonprofit organization, Climb Your Everest (CYE) was born. CYE’s goal is to provide educational programs that empower marginalized women across the globe. Facing challenges, taking risks, and tackling the things that frighten me the most are precisely the things that have most empowered me and inspired the girls to follow in my footsteps. These girls are attempting something that is absolutely unprecedented: to become the first ones in their villages to attain an education and pursue a professional career. They will become engineers, psychologists, mountaineers, or professors like me. They will demonstrate to their families and communities that they are indeed among their country’s greatest resources who will someday transform their nation. That is my hope and dream.