Belleville military wife to climb Kilimanjaro to help women

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A Belleville woman plans to scale Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa to raise awareness about the plight of women in countries at war.

The (Belleville) News-Democrat reports that Leia Johnson will set out March 2 with a team of 14 women and one man and hopes to reach the 19,000-foot summit of the mountain in Tanzania by March 8 — International Women’s Day.

The 35-year-old wife of an Air Force major stationed at Scott Air Force Base is founder of the nonprofit Somebody’s Mama. It sponsors women’s empowerment projects around the globe and works with sister group One Million Thumbprints, which helps women become independent.

Johnson’s efforts will highlight the trouble women face in areas of conflict in Syria, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.