Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hog Charge 2011 – A Study in Contrasts

It is another gorgeous day in Kenya, sunny, breezy and in the low 80's. It is Sunday so traffic is manageable which always makes me happy. I can actually go places. Today I am at the 2011 Hog Charge which is a bicycle race ridden primarily by local school children to raise money for the Rhino Ark Charitable Trust which puts up fencing around Kenya game parks to conserve the habitat for these animals to continue flourishing, safe from outside dangers. The race is held at this beautiful boarding school just north of Nairobi, Peponi Secondary School.

WBR is here because we donated 20 Nyati bicycles for local children to ride. We have five teams of four members all riding Nyati's. The children chosen to ride the Nyati's were selected by the Hog Charge board and then include twelve children from Ruiru Rehabilitation Center. These children were all rescued from the streets of Nairobi, given a home and an education by this organization. The other eight riders are from a local primary school, Ndiini Primary in a very poor area outside Nairobi. There are another 120 teams made up of mostly kids from around Nairobi, kids who come from very different lives. These kids have bikes, nice bikes and come from good homes, homes that are financially stable. They have choices. The other 480 kids for the most part are kids that won the birth lottery.

I spent most of the morning at Checkpoint 11 waiting for our Nyati Teams to come through. As I sat there and watched team after team come through with their uniquely designed shirts, their nice bikes and camel backs filled with good, clean water I kept wondering the complexities on how we enter this world. I consider myself a winner in God's birth lottery. I grew up in the US at a time when women were gaining more and more power with more and more choices. I grew up in a healthy, stable family with parents who are still married 46 years later. To other's I might be considered not as lucky as them. I had limited 

 
opportunities because my parents did not have money. We just made do and did the best with what we had. To the kids sitting under the tree next to me in Kenya at Checkpoint 11 I cannot imagine what they were thinking as they watched team after team come through.

They just looked so hungry….they didn't even wish for a bike. They just wanted something to eat. As the teams came through and would throw their half eaten cookies, candy and fruit on the ground and run off to the next checkpoint these children under the tree would scoop up the remnants like they were digging into Thanksgiving turkey. Finally the gentleman in charge of the Checkpoint walked over and started handing out oranges to all the kids. They politely took the oranges and walked away completely satisfied.

I always struggle with days like today. The discrepancy between the haves and the have nots is so great in Africa. I wish I could give all these kids a meal, a good roof over their heads and an education. Will they ever get out of this place? Their place in life? Will they ever get a shot to be great? To do something great? To help their fellow man some day? Will they help raise others out of this crushing poverty? I just recently read the story of Joseph in the Bible. If you've never read it, take the time to do so, Genesis 30 onward. Repeatedly God created seemingly bad situations to befall Joseph, hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, and finally spending time in jail. All of this happened, was orchestrated to enable him to eventually save his family and all of Egypt. Maybe one of these children through all the outwardly appearing bad lot in life will be the next Joseph.

In the end I was able to donate, on the behalf of World Bicycle Relief four bikes.  Who knows what these bicycles might do for these four street kids from Nairobi.  Some day, they may have their story.

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