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Utica, NY– Bryan Michael Washburn, of Clinton, and David Swierczek, of Utica, are setting out to climb the world’s tallest freestanding mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, in  Tanzania in early October.  They will be dedicating their climb to raising awareness for the charitable organization Lumos.  Founded by the British author of the famed ‘Harry Potter’ series, J.K. Rowling, Lumos helps unite institutionalized children with loving families.

“I want to travel with a purpose,” Washburn explained.  “While climbing is a very personal mission for both us, I wanted to do something parallel to that, to raise awareness about an issue that afflicts the local area.”

Tanzania is a source, transit, and destination country for children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation.

“When researching the country,” added Washburn, “I learned how these children are taken from their families under false pretenses and often end up disappearing or placed in orphanages.  Digging a little deeper, I then discovered that one of Lumos’ core missions’ was to help prevent this very thing from happening by getting the children out of orphanages and back to their families.  Climbing Kilimanjaro then became something more.  It became the perfect platform for showcasing Lumos’ work.  If one child can return to their family because we climbed the mountain then we will have reached a summit far greater than we initially set out for.”

Children in orphanages are more susceptible to being trafficked due to the lack of individual care and exposure to strangers. Lumos strives to increase awareness about the harmful effect of institutions on children’s lives and end global institutionalization by 2050.

Abi Munroe, Anti Trafficking Officer at Lumos UK stated “Lumos works to achieve commitments from national governments, multilateral and funders to recognize the harms of orphanages, a part of which focuses on the connection between orphanages and child trafficking.  In response, Lumos works to prohibit the facilitation of its drivers, orphanage tourism, visits, and financial flows, and works to influence businesses, NGOs and the public to change behavior around donating to and volunteering in orphanages.”

Lumos is grateful for Washburn’s and Swierczek’s willingness to dedicate their climb in honor of bringing awareness to the organization and its cause.  The organization has assisted the area men with materials to hold at the top of Kilimanjaro and will share the event on social media.

Washburn recently began a fundraiser for Lumos through his Facebook account.  “If we hit our goal, I’ll start another one,” Washburn said.  “We’ll be sharing Lumos’ mission and our climb across social media.  Every little bit of exposure helps bring this issue to people’s faces.”

For more information on Lumos and how you can directly donate to the organization, visit www.wearelumos.org.  You can also follow Lumos on social media across Facebook (@lumos.at.work), Instagram (@wearelumos) and Twitter (@lumos).

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