By: Rodney Olsen
The rain is coming. Storms too. It might get pretty wild over the next week but I’ll just stay inside.
Warm. Dry. Safe.
I wonder what it might be like for people who don’t have that option.
Sometimes when I’m drifting off to sleep I think about some of the people I’ve met who don’t have the luxury of a comfortable bed and the security of a locked door. The anxieties of the day might sometimes keep me awake but at least for those nighttime hours, I am relatively safe.
I’m not kept awake by rain falling through holes in a grass roof or localised flooding surging through my home. I’m not wondering if this is the night that someone will toss aside the iron sheet that serves as the only barrier between my family and the rest of the world, intent on stealing, destroying and causing personal harm.
This October I’m doing more than thinking about the terrible situations that many are helpless in changing. I’ll be taking on a 500 kilometre Ride for Compassion from Albany to Perth to raise funds to provide new homes for children living in dilapidated shelters in Uganda.
“These children are currently living in deplorable conditions that are unsafe, unprotected from the weather, and at risk of collapse.”
Staff at Ochegen Child Development Centre regularly visit the homes of Compassion assisted children to provide support. From these visits, staff have identified an urgent need to improve living conditions for 14 Compassion assisted children and their families.
I know that you and I don’t have the capacity to provide a shelter for every child living in extreme poverty around the world, but together, we can make a massive difference for the 14 families who will benefit from the funds we will raise through the ride.
The need is real and urgent.
Projects are always based on children’s most critical needs, as determined by the local church who knows each child and their situation individually. This project was identified as essential to children’s healthy development for the following reasons:
• Most of these families earn less than US$4 per month; two families are led by single mothers who are struggling to make ends meet, relying on casual labour like gardening.
• Currently, children live in grass-thatched shelters that cannot protect them from varying weather conditions, increasing their risk of pneumonia, flu and other airborne diseases. One child describes how food often rots in their family’s house because of its damp conditions.
• Most of the families have seven members who sometimes share a shelter with their livestock. Children often share sleeping mats with their siblings. Without privacy or adequate resting space, the current living conditions have affected the children’s psychological well-being, emotional development and academic performance.
• In its current state, these shelters are unsafe and susceptible to collapse. The homes are constructed with grass roofs, causing poor ventilation and a daily reliance on firewood for cooking, which exacerbates the risk of fire.
Ride for Compassion 2019 will take place from the 19th to the 26th of October with around 22 cyclists and a dedicated support team travelling from Albany in the south west of Australia to Perth.
I hope that by helping to provide more suitable shelters, both you and the families who will benefit will sleep easier at night.
If you’d like more details about Ride for Compassion, just drop me a message or visit the Ride for Compassion website.
Article supplied with thanks to Rodney Olsen.
About the Author: Rodney is a husband, father, cyclist and former radio broadcaster who works for Compassion Australia.