The Beauty of the Bicycle

I spotted a blog post titled 25 Beautiful Photos of the World’s Favorite Transportation recently on the Compassion Blog. I highly recommend reading the post and checking out some bikes from around the world.

As a cyclist, I love opportunities to highlight the beauty of the bicycle.

There are more than a billion bicycles in the world – used for sport, work and regular old transportation. In the impoverished communities where we work, a bicycle can mean so much more than just a thing that gets you from point A to point B.

It’s sometimes a child’s only toy. A teen’s only way to get to class. A means to attend the only church in a 100-mile radius. An opportunity for a street business to provide for a family. Bicycles are sometimes a catalyst for a little … Hope.

The post reminded me of a couple of bicycle photos I took while in Rwanda a few years ago seeing Compassion at work. The photo at the top of this post is one I snapped when I saw an older gentleman cycling along the road I was standing beside. You can click on the photo (or the others in this post) for a closer look.

The photo below shows Emmanuel and the bicycle he uses to earn a living for his family. He collects and delivers water as well as transporting groceries from the local markets for others in his village. This is one of my very favourite photos.

Emmanuel is holding one of his babies. His wife had triplets. I can’t imagine the mixed emotions of finding out that you’re pregnant with triplets when you’re living in poverty. On the one hand it would be such a blessing but on the other hand, you would be wondering how you would be able to support these new, precious lives.

Thankfully, Compassion was right there partnering with the local church and was able to ensure a good pregnancy and a healthy birth. Those triplets were gorgeous and Emmanuel was absolutely besotted with his little family.

This brings me to another bike photo. This is my 2012 Giant bicycle which I’ll pedal more than 4,300 kilometres across Australia later this year to raise funds for Compassion. It’s for people like Emmanuel, his wife and their triplets that I’ll be riding.

If you’d like to support my ride you can do so in two ways.

I am personally seeking to raise $15,000. I really need your help to make that a reality.

You can make a direct donation to my fundraising page. Your donation will touch the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our world through Compassion’s Highly Vulnerable Children’s Fund.

Every child in poverty is vulnerable, but some children are at risk of the most deplorable situations in the world.

Children whose parents who have left, died, or are unable to provide for them, children exposed to exploitation and children with special needs are highly vulnerable. They often find themselves on the edge of extremely dangerous situations like child labour, gang violence, trafficking, and life on the street.

So far, I received donations from $10 to $1,000 from some generous friends. All donations above $2 are tax deductible in Australia. Your contribution, of any amount, will put me closer to my target of $15,000.

The other way you can help to boost my total is to sponsor a child living in poverty. By using that link your sponsorship will count towards my fundraising goal while releasing a child from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Sponsorship gives kids safe places to play, the chance to see a doctor when they’re sick, education, and the opportunity to discover Jesus’ incredible love for them.

Sponsor a child. Give them a brighter future so they, and eventually their own children, can live free from poverty.

Whichever way you choose to support me and however much you choose to give, your contribution will not only help push me closer to reaching my target, you’ll also change the life of a child or children living with the devastating effects of extreme poverty.

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading The Beauty of the Bicycle? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂

Lest We Forget – ANZAC Day 2018

Olsens-in-Uniform

ANZAC Day, the 25th of April, has been described as Australia’s most important national occasion. While many public holidays are just about getting an extra day off, ANZAC Day has real significance for many Australians.

It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. While the date is aligned with that event in the First World War, the day is a remembrance of all those who have been to war to protect our freedom.

ANZAC Day goes beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915. It is the day we remember all Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. The spirit of ANZAC, with its human qualities of courage, mateship, and sacrifice, continues to have meaning and relevance for our sense of national identity. On ANZAC day, ceremonies are held in towns and cities across the nation to acknowledge the service of our veterans.

Sadie OlsenMy parents served in the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War. (You can click on any of the photos for a closer look. As well as the individual photos of my parents, the top picture shows my dad on the far right with his father and two of his brothers.)

I’ve watched television coverage of many ANZAC ceremonies over many years and for a couple of years, I volunteered at the march in Perth. After all these years the support for these commemorations continues to grow as the stories of heroism are remembered. As I look at the faces of those who served our country I see the pain as they remember their service during the dawn services as well as the joy of being remembered as they travel the route of the marches along city streets.

When they see the faces in the crowds and hear the cheering as they pass, they know that this country is grateful for their sacrifice and the sacrifice of those who didn’t make it home.
Tom Olsen

War is a terrible thing, and I’m glad that I’ve never had to fight, but I am grateful for the courage and sacrifice of those who fought for our country. I shudder when I imagine what it would be like to face a hostile enemy, knowing that any moment could be my last.

I would hate to have to go to war. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to say goodbye to my loved ones, not knowing if I’d ever see them again. Having kids of my own, I don’t even want to think about the parents that have seen their children go to war. My hope is that we will continue to work towards finding better, peaceful ways to overcome conflict. War should never be the answer.

ANZAC Day isn’t about glorifying war, it’s about paying our respects to those who put their lives on the line for their countrymen and the generations to come.

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading Lest We Forget – ANZAC Day 2018? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂

A Taste of What’s to Come

Over the last few days, I’ve really enjoyed comments from friends about the training ride I did on Saturday with a group of other cyclists planning to undertake Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast.

Many have been amazed that we would ride 180 kilometres from Perth to Bunbury. The truth is, we’ll be riding that kind of distance many times over this September and October when we cross our very big country. While I was very pleased with Saturday’s ride and how good I felt afterwards, there’s a lot more training ahead if I’m going to make the distance.

The ride will start in Perth, Western Australia on Saturday the 15th of September. We will arrive at Compassion’s head office in Newcastle, New South Wales on Tuesday the 16th of October. There’ll be 28 riding days and 4 rest days. The average riding distance for those riding days will be just over 150 kilometres. Our longest days will be just under 200 kilometres. There’ll be around 25 cyclists and a support team of around 8.

As for that training ride, here’s a minute long version of the almost seven hours we spent in the saddle on the weekend.

You can get a glimpse of the route we took by watching this video which traces our ride on a map.

If you’d like to support my ride you can do so in two ways.

I am personally seeking to raise $15,000. I really need your help to make that a reality.

You can make a direct donation to my fundraising page. Your donation will touch the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our world through Compassion’s Highly Vulnerable Children’s Fund.

Every child in poverty is vulnerable, but some children are at risk of the most deplorable situations in the world.

Children whose parents who have left, died, or are unable to provide for them, children exposed to exploitation and children with special needs are highly vulnerable. They often find themselves on the edge of extremely dangerous situations like child labour, gang violence, trafficking, and life on the street.

So far, I received donations from $10 to $1,000 from some generous friends. All donations above $2 are tax deductible in Australia. Your contribution, of any amount, will put me closer to my target of $15,000.

The other way you can help to boost my total is to sponsor a child living in poverty. By using that link your sponsorship will count towards my fundraising goal while releasing a child from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Sponsorship gives kids safe places to play, the chance to see a doctor when they’re sick, education, and the opportunity to discover Jesus’ incredible love for them.

Sponsor a child. Give them a brighter future so they, and eventually their own children, can live free from poverty.

Whichever way you choose to support me and however much you choose to give, your contribution will not only help push me closer to reaching my target, you’ll also change the life of a child or children living with the devastating effects of extreme poverty.

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading A Taste of What’s to Come? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂

How Do We Explain?

Looking across a couple of news websites today I’ve seen a common theme.

“How do I explain this to my 10-year-old son?”

“I was ashamed to explain to my nine-year-old son this morning that we had planned to cheat.”

It seems parents are agonising over how to explain the Australian cricket cheating scandal to their children.

For those not in Australia and therefore not having their newsfeeds swamped with stories of the unimaginable horror of the latest scandal to rock the sports world, here’s the very shortened version of ball tampering by the Australia national cricket team.

Cameron Bancroft was charged with alleged ball tampering on 24 March 2018 when videos showing him rubbing and then concealing a suspicious yellow object emerged during day three of the third test against South Africa, at Newlands Stadium. Captain Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft accepted the ball tampering allegation in front of Andy Pycroft, the match referee, and press. – wiki

How do we explain to a child that a game that’s meant to be played fairly and by the rules isn’t always as fair as it should be? How do we tell our children that their heroes aren’t heroes after all?

Of course, we should be able to expect more from those who represent our country and yes, it’s not easy to explain these things to a child.

But as I read these articles I’m left wondering too.

How do we explain to our kids that there are around 400 million children, just like them, that are living in extreme poverty in our world today? How do we explain that millions of young people around their age don’t know if they’ll even eat today?

How do we explain to them that today there’ll be roughly 15,000 children under the age of five who will die from preventable causes? How do we tell them that tomorrow there’ll be another 15,000 who will die, then another 15,000 the next day, the day after and the day after that? How do we tell our children that ‘preventable’ means that we have all the resources, all the know how, but as a world community we refuse to step up and stop those deaths?

Are we agonising over how we explain the horrors of war where children their age are killed daily? Do we struggle to find the words to explain why children are locked away in detention centres under Australia’s watch?

I don’t think we struggle to explain any of these things to our children. We don’t struggle because there really is no explanation as to why we continue to allow these things to go on. We don’t struggle because we choose to simply not have those kinds of conversations.

There’s no agonising over explaining these kinds of horrors to our children because these matters are obviously not as important to us, or as earth-shaking, as some highly paid sportsmen breaking the rules.

How could I ever explain that to a child?

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading How Do We Explain?? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂

Six Months

A spring day in Perth. There is a mixture of excitement, anticipation and concern. There may even be fear. Have I done enough? Will I make it?

Looking back there are hundreds, even thousands of hours in preparation. Looking ahead there are 32 days, over 4,300 kilometres, pain, exhilaration, good times and bad.

On that spring day I’ll begin the Ride for Compassion Coast to Coast, a huge cycling event that will make a major impact for children living in extreme poverty. Today marks six months from the first turn of the pedals on the journey.

The ride will start in Perth, Western Australia on Saturday the 15th of September. We will arrive at Compassion’s head office in Newcastle, New South Wales on Tuesday the 16th of October. There’ll be 28 riding days and 4 rest days. The average riding distance for those riding days will be just over 150 kilometres. Our longest days will be just under 200 kilometres. There’ll be around 25 cyclists and a support team of around 8.

Six Months Today

That spring day will come so very quickly. Planning for this ride began some years ago and yet here we are, six months out, working towards that first day on the bike, then the second, then the third and so on all the way to the other side of the country.

So much has already been done in planning and preparation but there’s so much still to be organised and completed.

More than 4,300 kilometres from west to east won’t happen unless there are thousands of kilometres in training beforehand. That training will require a change in my routines, my calendar, what I eat, how I think and so many other areas of life. There’s no doubt that this ride will require sacrifice.

I can’t afford to take the path of least resistance. It’s autumn now but winter is around the corner. I won’t have the luxury of leaving my bike in the garage on wet days. If I’m to make the distance I need to step up today and every other day until this ride is over.

It’s Too Important

The cause behind the ride is too important to treat lightly. Hundreds of children living in extreme poverty are depending on those of us making this journey and making it count. They don’t know we’ll be riding across the continent, they’ll probably never know, but it’s an important cause all the same.

There are children, through no fault of their own, who are living in the most unacceptable circumstances. We plan to make a difference for as many of them as we can by offering them a hope more powerful than poverty.

If you’d like to support my ride you can do so in two ways.

I am personally seeking to raise $15,000. I really need your help to make that a reality.

You can make a direct donation to my fundraising page. Your donation will touch the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our world through Compassion’s Highly Vulnerable Children’s Fund.

Every child in poverty is vulnerable, but some children are at risk of the most deplorable situations in the world.

Children whose parents who have left, died, or are unable to provide for them, children exposed to exploitation and children with special needs are highly vulnerable. They often find themselves on the edge of extremely dangerous situations like child labour, gang violence, trafficking, and life on the street.

So far, I received donations from $10 to $1,000 from some generous friends. All donations above $2 are tax deductible in Australia. Your contribution, of any amount, will put me closer to my target of $15,000.

The other way you can help to boost my total is to sponsor a child living in poverty. By using that link your sponsorship will count towards my fundraising goal while releasing a child from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Sponsorship gives kids safe places to play, the chance to see a doctor when they’re sick, education, and the opportunity to discover Jesus’ incredible love for them.

Sponsor a child. Give them a brighter future so they, and eventually their own children, can live free from poverty.

Whichever way you choose to support me and however much you choose to give, your contribution will not only help push me closer to reaching my target, you’ll also change the life of a child or children living with the devastating effects of extreme poverty.

The Long and Winding Road

So there is quite literally a long road ahead for me beginning six months from today but the journey starts now. I’ll be doing my best to fulfil my responsibilities in training, fundraising and then riding. Will you support me on this massive venture?

It’s unacceptable that millions of children are living in extreme poverty so I’m putting my body on the line to do whatever I can to make a difference for as many of those children as I can.

Will you help me give more children a chance to live, dream and hope? Sponsor a child today or donate through my fundraising page.

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading Six Months? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂