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  • Writer's pictureDenise Powers

Presentation to Rotary Club Grand Cayman

Updated: Feb 22, 2022

Project Further: Hiking Mexico to Canada to Support Cayman's DV Survivors

October 14, 2021

"You're Crazy". She looked at me directly in the eyes when she said it. She meant it.

It's not exactly a politically correct statement, but my friend Tina is not the only one to have used it.

I get it. The challenge I have decided to undertake is not for the faint of heart.

Starting in March 2022, I will hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail, 2,650 miles from the Mexican-Californian border to the Canadian-Washington border through the back-country of the Southern Californian desert, the Sierras, and the Cascades. I am aiming to be in Canada by mid-September, before the snow flies.

Why? Why are you doing this crazy thing? I get asked.

My answer is simple: because I can and because I must. Because I have a purpose to see me through.

Would you trade 2,650 miles for $1 million?

Well, it depends on what you wanted to do with the million bucks.

Project Further & The Cayman Islands Crisis Centre

Project Further was borne of the idea that equality and empowerment for women and girls everywhere would be the most significant achievement of human history. But where does one start with a goal like that? Somewhere close to home. Somewhere where the impact of what is done is felt. Where it makes a difference.

Project Further's first project is to raise a million dollars to build a new, fit-for-purpose safe shelter for the women, children and men of Cayman who need it.

The CICC is Cayman's only shelter for survivors of domestic violence and their children. It is a 4 bedroom, 1 bathroom house that has accommodated 28 people at a time. Several clients share a bedroom - cramming into bunk beds with their children. At times of high demand, like World Cup games and Christmas, air mattresses are put out on the floor of the living room to accommodate these women and children.

Hardly an ideal situation for healing.

The Crisis Centre also operates Estella's Place, which is a walk-in centre for those seeking assistance without emergency shelter including individual and group counselling and support group sessions. There is a kid's helpline that is run out of Estella's place as well.

TAYA Lounge is a youth programme that provides teens with vital life training skills, a safe place to be after school, recreational activities and therapy sessions for young people who have been victimized by maltreatment, domestic violence and sexual abuse and the programmes work to illustrate what healthy relationships look like, provides guidance on how to effectively deal with childhood trauma, conflict resolution and anger management.

Essentially, the Crisis Centre and Estella's Place are helping survivors find lives free from violence and TAYA Lounge is the programme that is seeking to prevent DV from happening in the future.

The mission of the Crisis Centre is to close its doors forever because its services are no longer required. The combination of the programmes seeks to eradicate domestic violence from these islands. This is pretty powerful stuff and I believe with my whole heart that this is possible. We are entitled to miracles. It will happen. And it will take the whole village to make it so.

Hiking the PCT and following in the footsteps of the incredible Derek Haines, who successfully raised $1 million for Jasmine, with the support and hard work of all of you behind him, is how I want to make my contribution to this incredible goal.

The Facts on Domestic Violence

These are some statistics from around the world. The numbers of reports in Cayman are no different than these. There is domestic and sexual violence in this community to be sure.

  • 35% of women and 1 in 7 men worldwide experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetimes. That means someone you know and love has been abused

  • In 2020, 1.6 million women in England and Wales were victims of domestic violence. There were 757,000 male victims.

  • 6 women are killed every hour by a male family member - that stat is from the UN, which calls this a global pandemic of femicide, 50,000 women a year

  • A woman is killed by a man every 3 days in the UK. In Canada the number is 1 woman or girl every 2.5 days.

  • Domestic violence is a human rights violation

  • The definition includes physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse

  • Children who grow up in families where there is violence tend to carry these traumas into adulthood and often suffer a range of behavioural and emotional issues

  • The economic impacts of domestic violence are staggering, considering the lost time at work, healthcare costs, disrupted education, and damage to credit.

What Will This Project Entail?

  • Starting Mar 15 2022 and finishing mid-September 2022

  • Being away from home for 6 months

  • 2,650 miles of back-country wilderness hiking

  • Logging 15 - 20 miles a day with a 30 - 40 pound pack

  • Elevation gain of 489,418 feet and loss of 488,411 feet, or the equivalent of climbing vertically to a height of 92.7 miles, or climbing Mount Everest 17 times from sea level

  • Carrying my whole life and my every need on my back: water, food, clothing, tent, sleeping bag, and safety equipment

  • Temperatures will range between 105F to below freezing

  • Blazing hot sun, torrential rain and lightning, snow, mosquitos, rattlesnakes and bears. Don't forget the forest fires.

  • Everything I have in terms of physical and mental endurance

  • Some of the most incredible backcountry wilderness views on the planet

How Can You Help?

  • Fundraise for the CICC under the Project Further banner

  • Spread the word and follow my progress at, Facebook and Instagram and my personal LinkedIn page

  • Hike with me! I am selling 'legs' of the hike, where you are welcome to join me for a week or two of some exhilarating adventure

  • Donate directly to the CICC or through a GoFundMe page set up by The Charity Network

  • I ask that individuals and organisations who already contribute to the CICC don't change their donations to this project this year - what we don't want to happen is to run into cash flow problems for operating costs because funding has diverted to this cap-ex project.

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