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World Vision: Get Cycling, Help Children In Crisis


Get cycling and help Children in Crisis

This summer, the Pawson family of Ilam, Christchurch are cycling the length of the South Island on a tandem mountain bike, taking an arduous off-road route through the Southern Alps, to raise money for World Vision's Children in Crisis programme.

Inspired by a trip to India in May 2007, where they saw World Vision's work for themselves, Sean and Gill Pawson and their five teenage children aim to raise $100,000 to further World Vision's work there. Their adventure, which they're calling Cycling with the Poor, begins on January 14 at Colac Bay, near Invercargill, and will end a month later near Nelson.

The team of riders will be collecting donations along their route, but Sean says many individuals, schools and church groups have also approached him asking what they can do to help.

"Groups of workmates, families, schools and churches can get involved by holding their own cycling event and getting people to sponsor them for the distance they travel, or the height they gain," he says.

"Alternatively they can clock up some kilometres on cycles and then contribute the money they would have spent on petrol to the Born to be Free projects. They could ride to work, church or a picnic spot and then ride home again. The possibilities are as wide and as wild as people's imaginations. Senior citizens, preschoolers and everyone in between can have a crack at an event. The money they raise will help us reach our target of $100,000 for Children in Crisis."

Sean has created all the resources required for a DIY Cycling with the Poor event from scratch - everything from an organiser's checklist to a sponsorship form and a template for managing finances. They are available free of charge at cyclingwiththepoor.co.nz for groups to download.

Sean's motivation stems from the fact that, while he saw the dark side of life for children in India, he also saw that there is hope. The Pawsons visited the Born to be Free project in Pernambut, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which receives funding from World Vision New Zealand's Children in Crisis programme and the 40 Hour Famine.

As parents in Pernambut struggle to meet family expenses, they are sometimes forced to send their children out to work. In some cases they mortgage their children into bonded labour in exchange for cash loans; the children are bonded to work there until the family's debt, plus interest, is fully repaid. Children are employed mainly in manufacturing industries, such as making beedis (hand-rolled cigarettes), rope products, matches and fireworks. The employers often physically or mentally abuse the children, who work in unhealthy conditions for little pay.

The Born to be Free Project supports communities as they combat child labour and release children from bonded labour. The project reintegrates children into the school system and provides a transit school for children who have missed out on an education. Older children are trained in skills that will help them earn a good income to assist their families. The project teaches improved methods of generating income to ensure parents don't have to consider child labour in times of hardship. Community members also learn about child rights and become strong advocates against child labour.

World Vision New Zealand CEO Lisa Cescon says the money raised as a result of Cycling with the Poor will not only continue the work at Born to be Free in Pernambut but will also help to fund a new Born to be Free project in Rajahmundry, further north in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

"This new project will tackle child labor in one of the worst affected areas of India and build on the good practices of the Born to be Free project in Pernambut. It will not only rehabilitate children formerly bonded into labour but also those who have been trafficked - many of whom are forced to become child sex workers. The Pawsons' fundraising efforts will make a huge difference in the lives of children who are living in the most appalling conditions. The money raised from Cycling with the Poor will allow us to get this new project in Rajahmundry off the ground - bringing hope to children who currently have none," she says.

To find out how to create your own DIY Cycling with the Poor event, go to www.cyclingwiththepoor.co.nz and click on Support.

ENDS

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