Steamboat woman raising childhood sex abuse awareness through North Pole expedition
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS —Eirliani Abdul Rahman came to Steamboat Springs three years ago to learn how to ski.
Now, she’s preparing to become the first Singaporean national to ski 100 miles over 10 days across the North Pole.
“I think just the idea if you want to put your mind to something with training and help, you can get there,” Rahman said. “When I am out there in the Arctic, it’s incredible because there’s nothing except white on white. It’s soothing, and for me, I should not be out there. I’m from a tropical island.”
Rahman splits her training time between Steamboat Sprigs and the Canadian Arctic. She became the first Singaporean to circumnavigate the frozen Frobisher Bay, skiing 63 miles over five days while hauling a 190-pound sled of gear and food in March 2017.
Around town, Rahman goes by, “Lin,” for short. She’s often pulling a 150 to 180 pound sled on the road around Manic Training, where she works out almost every day. On other days, she’s skiing at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center.
The 5-foot-4-inch, 110-pound, 42-year-old knows she’s the last person people expect to take on the ultimate expedition, but she’s well-equipped with a passion for a cause to drive her through the Arctic.
“I want to raise awareness on child sex abuse,” Rahman said. “I want to do my best to mention our issues, help before it happens to them. Every child has a right to a safe childhood. I’ve raised $35,000 on my own and have $15,500 left on the costs. The rest will go to my nonprofit.”
Rahman has worn many hats over the years, including serving 10 years in the Singapore Foreign Service and starting her own nonprofit organization, YAKIN, Youth, Adult Survivors and Kin in Need. She currently serves as program director of the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation U.S.
In 2017, she published “Survivors: Breaking the Silence on Child Sexual Abuse,” which tells stories of five men and seven women childhood sexual abuse survivors from Germany, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kindgom and the U.S.
The cause is close to heart: Rahman is a survivor herself. She wants to give children a voice and help adults who deal with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder from their experiences.
YAKIN was designed to help fund her next book: a graphic novel to help catalyze awareness and conversation on childhood sex abuse. She wants children to be able to use the book to foster conversation with their parents if they are suffering. The book will be published online in 2020.
“We’re sharing the stories in the form of cartoons, make them look uniform,” Rahman said. “Other kids can point to the picture and say, ‘Hey can we talk about it?’ When it happened to me, I was a child. I was 10. I didn’t know how to raise the subject, had no idea. Easier with something like this in your hand.”
Rahman hopes that her expedition not only raises money for her cause but shows other survivors what they are capable of: resilience in the face of severe adversity. She’s even encouraged five men to join her on her journey. She hopes to encourage women to join her also.
“In general, not a lot of women train to do this, especially not from where I’m from,” Rahman said. “Women from Asia are so small, but let’s defy expectations. We don’t have to conform to anything. We can do things we want to do.”
To donate to Rahman’s journey, visit gogetfunding.com/lins-100-mile-ski-to-the-north-pole.
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