On Saturday, Oct. 4, hundreds of people across Canada and the United States will climb on their bikes to raise support for hundreds of charities working to help some of the world’s most marginalized people.
This is Ride for Refuge, an annual continent-wide bike-a-thon that bills itself as “a fantastically fun, family-friendly bike-a-thon supporting charities serving the displaced, vulnerable and exploited.” Through it, thousands of riders have helped to raise more than $5,000,000 since 2004.
This year marks the first time the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), the Anglican Church of Canada’s agency for sustainable development, relief, refugees and global justice, will participate. Nine different teams and a total of 32 riders will raise money to support PWRDF’s initiatives to provide famine relief in South Sudan.
South Sudan, the world’s newest country, has long faced civil unrest, with the most recent bout ongoing since late 2013. As a consequence, over a million people have been forced from their homes. Because South Sudan sustains itself largely through agriculture, conflict between rebel groups and the government puts millions more at risk of starvation. The United Nations has warned about the looming danger of a massive famine if peace is not restored to the region.
In response to this crisis, PWRDF, in partnership with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, has pledged to provide food to over 10,000 displaced persons in South Sudan’s Mundri County, where many of those fleeing violence have temporarily settled. The food will keep the communities stable until their crops can be harvested. Donations made will be matched four-to-one by the Canadian government.
When asked what spurred him to participate in the race, Peter Goodwin, diocesan representative for New Westminster, playfully remarked that in addition to the encouragement he received from PWRDF, part of his motivation was that “Toronto and Hamilton had teams. Vancouver could not be without!” He was also encouraged by the importance of the cause itself.
“Our teams and supporters will be playing a part in enhancing the lives of displaced peoples in South Sudan by providing a range of supports and services to help them towards establishing sustainable livelihoods.”
Any approved charity can participate by registering and recruiting teams of riders. The riders solicit donations under Ride for Refuge’s banner, and this money is then redistributed to their charity after the race. Canada-wide, a total of 965 teams will be racing in 30 locations.
PWRDF has teams racing in Calgary, Hamilton, Ignace, Ont., Vancouver, Toronto East, Mount Pearl, Nfld., London, Ottawa, and Three Hills, Alta. At time of publication, they had collectively raised a total of $8852. You can support an individual rider or a team through the Ride for Refuge website.