Keeping an Eye Out for Mountain Cats And Rattlesnakes

Ken Nagano
Human Rights

Eirliani Abdul Rahman is a diplomat turned activist. To raise awareness for survivors of sexual child abuse, she is setting out for an expedition to Antarctica in December 2018. Eirliani will document her inner and outer struggles as she is preparing for this trip, pulling a sled with 190 pounds in food and gear, in temperatures dipping to minus 48 degrees Celsius.

This is part 8 of Eirliani’s personal leadership journey.

It is extraordinarily hard training when the end is not yet in sight:
Summer is in full swing; the baby eagles are being watched over by their white-headed parents in their giant nests perched on top of abandoned telegraph poles; marmots and prairie dogs are scurrying across meadows redolent with the fragrance of July’s flowers; and I’ve discovered my first muskrat diligently eating off a lake in the wilderness of Colorado.

"We'd never seen anything as green as these rice paddies. It was not just the paddies themselves: the surrounding vegetation - foliage so dense the trees lost track of whose leaves were whose - was a rainbow coalition of one colour: green. There was an infinity of greens, rendered all the greener by splashes of red hibiscus and the herons floating past, so white and big it seemed as if sheets hung out to dry had suddenly taken wing. All other colours - even purple and black - were shades of green. Light and shade were degrees of green. Greenness, here, was less a colour than a colonising impulse. Everything was either already green - like a snake, bright as a blade of grass, sidling across the footpath - or in the process of becoming so. Statues of the Buddha were mossy, furred with green." - Geoff Dyer, Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It I love ferns. Throwback to when I was surrounded by these beautiful ferns in Colorado: I always feel at peace when in such verdant greenery. I feel blessed today: got the news that I was awarded the Singapore International Foundation's Arts for Good fellowship which will see me in Singapore at the end of November and in Chennai, India in late February 2019. What are you grateful for today? Photo credit: Jessica K. #projectbeauty #mountain #mountains @top.tags #toptags #mountainview #mountainlife #mountaineering #mountaintop #mountainclimbing #mountaineers #mountaingirls #mountaineer #love #mountainhigh #mountainlove #mountaingirl #mountainporn #mountainclimbers #rockclimbing #climbing #bouldering #girlswhoclimb #climblikeagirl #explorer_girl #jungle #forest #forests #nature

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Here, with my feet fresh on American soil, I discover anew the words of naturalists John Muir and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." (John Muir)

Eirliani Abdul RahmanNGO Yakin

Eirliani Abdul Rahman

Eirliani Abdul Rahman is preparing for a 700-mile ski trip to the South Pole in December 2018 to raise awareness for child sexual abuse survivors. She is the co-founder of YAKIN (Youth, Adult Survivors & Kin In Need), an NGO working on children’s rights and child protection, and a member of Twitter’s Safety & Trust Council. She serves as director at the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundationand is a member of the Global Diplomacy Lab.

In 2015, she led a successful campaign of the NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (“Save the Childhood Movement”) founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi called #FullStop to #childsexualabuse in India, which reached 16 million people over 6 weeks. Eirliani is co-author of the book “Survivors: Breaking the Silence on Child Sexual Abuse.” She won the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Award in 2015.

To all intents and purposes, I’ve abandoned the gym, finding pleasure instead in hiking up Emerald mountain standing at 9237 feet (2815 m),
just a short bus ride from where I live,
and getting used to the elevation again in between my bouts of traveling.

I tell myself that this is training for when I’m hiking a “14-er,” local speak for hiking a mountain exceeding 14,000 feet (4267 m) in height.

Mostly, I’m delighted at the newfound freedom to run the now snow-less trails, backpack on my back,
my main concern being keeping an eye out for mountain cats and rattlesnakes.

I’ve yet to see a bear.

My friends here tell me it’s a good thing…

I’ve travelled most of June – accompanying my Nobel Peace Prize boss to a black-tie event in Germany, then speaking at the Deutsche Welle’s Global Media Forum, speaking at a book reading in Pretoria, South Africa, hosted by the Alliance Française, and finally participating in an anti-trafficking conference organized by the German technical cooperation agency GIZ and the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

This past month, July, saw me traveling just domestically: to San Francisco for a Twitter Summit which included meetings with CEO Jack Dorsey, and to New York City to prepare for an upcoming event at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly come September.

August is more of the same: another book reading, this time in Hamburg, Germany, at the invitation of Die Zeit Foundation; working with my peers on a project to do with raising awareness on child abuse in Nairobi, Kenya; then to Singapore at the invitation of the Singapore government to represent my country at the India-Singapore Strategic Dialogue, and then finally to a remote province of Indonesia, Nusa Tenggara, to interview trafficking survivors.

How do I train with all that travelling?

It really is about being practical: hiking with friends whenever I’m back in Colorado so as to combine my need for society with training.

In Colorado, Eirliani is going hiking as often as possible to prepare for her trip to Antarctica.

This includes having discussions about wedding preparations with a bride-to-be while furiously putting in some miles hiking next to almost-dried-out creeks in the summer heat, and standing in to play softball, the rules of which still elude me, when there aren’t enough girls to play in the co-ed league.

As I wryly explained to the umpire as I missed yet another ball being pitched at me from the field, this is an American game and I was born and raised on a tropical island with decidedly British roots.

"I am looking forward to the winter again when I can get back on my skis and train in earnest."
Eirliani Abdul Rahman

I’m blessed to have friends who are such sweet supporters of my expedition to the South Pole, and who are always accommodating about my dietary requirements (I’m constantly hungry and need to eat) and my training needs (squeezing in time to train at odd hours of the day).

And I go solo, too: hiking on my own when I am back in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, or going rock climbing on my own when in another city, as sometimes it’s more convenient and safer than jogging in an ultra-busy metropolis.

Dare I say this?

I am looking forward to the winter again when I can get back on my skis and train in earnest.

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