A lot of people live and die wondering about their purpose in life. Two days ago, I saw mine in the faces of more than twenty strong and beautiful women. Our team had the privilege of sharing with a room full of I Pour Life’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Program members, the majority of which were funded by the Ride for Korah campaign. It was a moment I had daydreamed about countless times when cycling across America last summer.
Each of us took a moment to speak to them. I explained more about what our ride was. They all looked at us with surprise when I explained that we had ridden over 6,000 km, the equivalent of riding up and down Ethiopia five times. When things were difficult and weather, terrain, and more made us feel like giving up, we thought of these women. We knew that they wouldn’t give up and they inspired us to keep riding. I told them that all across our country, we told thousands of people about their hard work and beautiful families and many of them had generously given to help fund their businesses through I Pour Life‘s Women’s Economic Empowerment Program. Ride for Korah has sponsored over 32 women so far and we were standing face to face with the majority of them.
Next, G.O. spoke about our mantra, “Because We’re Able.” Our ride had begun from a belief that our privilege and ability to do good was a responsibility to do so. In days when we struggled and weren’t sure if we could do it, we reminded ourselves that we were able. He extended this phrase to the women before us as well. No matter what they had been told before or what struggles had preceded them, they were able to work with dignity and provide for themselves and their families.
Finally, Dakota shared. He explained that we saw each of the women in the room as our global family. They were our sisters. In the wake of the recent trash slide disaster in Korah, he told them that we stood with them in mourning of the sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, and children lost in the tragic event. He encouraged them and commended their courage and strength.
Together, they thanked us. We felt an overwhelming connection to these women. We dried our eyes as we stepped back and allowed the program director to speak to them next.
This gathering was a celebration of the women’s launch in the program and the startup materials they would be receiving later that afternoon. What better way to celebrate than with delicious donuts? We loaded trays with donuts and passed them out to everyone there. We laughed and ate, then gathered outside for a photo with the women funded by Ride for Korah. The reality of this campaign’s effect never felt as real as it did in that moment, standing side-by-side surrounded by more than twenty amazing women whose lives were presently being completely transformed.
Though we had the privilege of receiving the gratitude that afternoon, we were only representatives of the many people who helped us along the way and donated generously. I hope that each of our sponsors, donors, hosts, and well-wishers read this and know that their contribution, no matter how large or small, made a world of difference in the community of Korah.
There is still tremendous darkness and pain in the community of Korah. But on this day we saw such light in these amazing women. And who knows what possibilities lie in their children, who will be educated and provided for. This trip has left me with such a mix of feelings. I’ve sat down with individuals who have suffered more than I know how to comprehend. But I’ve also handed those same women the tools necessary to begin their own businesses, the keys to sustainability.
And all of this because three kids from Missouri decided to bike really far. The moral of the story? Do something. Your privilege is a blessing, but also a call to help those who have not yet received the same opportunities. In the end, our greatest hope for our campaign is that it reminded you of the worth and connectedness of all people. Use the gifts and talents you have to make a difference, because you’re able.
There are still many more worthy and hard-working people in need of a hand up. Give to help build a brighter future for a family in Korah.
Photos by our dear friend Joseph Bulger.