Eyes Wide Open: Bicycles for Girls

Do you have 3 minutes? First, watch this. 

This is real. It really happens, everyday women disappear.

Why? It’s a business. A booming business. 27 million are caught up, bought up, in the slave trade industry. The criteria: VULNERABILITY.

Last spring I visited four remote villages in Sierra Leone, Africa. During our stay , World Vision staffer Rosa schooled us in the ways and means of village life. The information was like drinking from a fire hose. I recall traveling between villages on a narrow dirt road and noticing, very unexpectantly, women and children emerging from the crowded bush.

“Where do they come from?” I asked.

Rosa explained that they had probably just finished up their work in the fields and were heading home.

Fields? It didn’t look like anything was nearby.

“That’s why the bicycles are so good.” Rosa stated.

Bikes? As she explained, my eyes were opened.

World Vision has a bicycle for girls program that provides a bike to a girl that meets a certain criteria. The criteria: VULNERABILITY

Interestingly, on my way home from Africa my eyes were opened to workings of this sort of business and I believe I was moments away from being a victim myself. I blogged about it here.

Knowing that this booming industry is lurking I ask you to consider a young woman whose spent an entire day in the field and is now traveling towards home on a quiet dirt road, alone, near dusk.

A bike to a girl can mean beating the clock and making it home before dark. 


A bike to a girl can mean safety to and from work or school. 


A bike to a girl can mean hope for a bright future. 

Maybe this Christmas a shiny bike for a girl is the one last gift you need to get! Make it bright.

Oh, I’m sure the video is still haunting you. Feel like you could do more? World Vision has a whole page of ways you can do something to help END IT! Click here.

*****

{THE GIFT GIVEAWAY}

This week I’m telling stories with World Vision that #sharejoy. I’m also giving away this gift package!
The Hole in our Gospel book, Zakale Christmas Ornament set from Kenya,  Artisian necklace, and Staci Frenes Wise Men & Angels CD. 

{HOW IT WORKS}

1. Share this post using #sharejoy and you will be entered into the drawing. That’s it… just SHARE and you’re entered! No strings attached. 
2. Give a gift or sponsor a child. If you respond by giving, leave a comment on my blog with your families gift, and you will again be entered into the drawing.
3. Throughout the week your Sharing and Giving will accumulate, giving you more chances at winning the gift this Christmas. **WINNER will be announced Saturday, December 21st** 
{Disclaimer: This post is not a paid advertisement. World Vision pays me nothing. I support and promote World Vision through this blog because I’ve seen first hand the life changing difference a gift can make to ONE family through the gift of ONE generous person.}

100%- A glimpse at sex-trade

I’ve just returned from my 12 day journey to Africa. Broken and bruised, humbled and changed, motivated and renewed would describe the plethora of emotions swirling in my heart and mind. Where o’ where do I begin?

Let’s begin at the end. My journey home.

Meet Cherry. A 28 year old cab driver from Freetown.

You spend a lot of time driving to get from place to place in this city. Poor roads and unimaginable congestion create an abundance of time to make lasting friendships. Cherry was one of them.

A few days before our scheduled flight home Jill and I asked Cherry if he would be willing to bring us all the way to the airport to make sure that we got their safely. It would require a full day. Since the airport is on an island, assessable only by boat, it takes a great deal of time to navigate your departure.

“Yes, I can do that…” he replied. “100%!”

100%. A guarantee that leaves no margin for error. As my journey was coming to a close, his assurance of a safe send-off gave me chills. The gift of shalom was alive and well.

Departure day came. We enjoyed lunch and conversation rich in family, relationships, America, and yes, even faith. It was good. Boarding the boat, a man approached Cherry and began a conversation. The two of them settled into a seat next to one another as we set sail across the water. Once the boat docked, the strange man seemingly dispersed as we shuttled ourselves in the direction of the airport. Almost under his breath, in passing, Cherry said to us,

“Remember you don’t trust anybody.”

Hmmm…that’s an odd statement.

“But Cherry, we trust you!” Jill replied.

“I know but just remember you don’t trust anybody.”

“I’m confused. Are you referring to the man on the Hoover craft?” Jill questioned.

“When you arrive in Ghana, this man will likely ask to help you with your bags or ask to help you through the airport. You don’t trust anybody!” Cherry implied.

And that was the end of the conversation. We said our good-byes over a can of coke, checked into our flight, and crossed through customs. As we settled into the hard plastic airport chairs, the man from the Hoover craft took a seat directly across from us. He smiled and attempted to strike up a conversation. We didn’t reciprocate. Just then he reached into his pocket, pulled out his phone, and began to boldly video tape Jill and I. Several awkward minutes passed until we decided to take our belongings and find a different seat.

Finally it was time to board the plane. Interestingly, we noted that the man waited to be the very last to board the plane. Finding an open seat, he sat next to Jill and once again attempted to strike up a conversation. Since Jill and I were not seated next to each other, she waited until moments before take off to move into the open seat next to myself.

Our flight to Ghana was uneventful. Well…until the very end, when seconds before touch down the pilot made a sudden change and sent our plane rocketing back up into the Heavenly skies. For about 10 minutes we didn’t know if it was mechanical, hijacked, or simply miscommunication. It was miscommunication and eventually we landed safely.

Safely into the presence of this stalking man.

“So, have you guys ever been to Ghana before?” says the man.

Again we ignore him. Within moments we find an airport agent willing to escort us all the way through baggage claim, customs, and onto our connecting flight. Ghana airport is interesting. In order to make your connecting flight you’re required to leave one building, walk outside into a congested sea of people and traffic, and reenter a completely different building. Oddly, the man disappeared and we never saw him again.

In hindsight (after much processing), Jill and I firmly believe that we were being set up, in the early trappings of some sort of sex-trade operation. It could have been a different outcome for us. Like that of the 27 million sex-slaves world wide. It’s real. It’s ugly. It’s happening right now.

Today, April 9th is END IT day! For more information on how you can shine a light on the sex-slave trade click here.

I’m totally and completely in awe of so many things through this experience. God’s nudge – the way he used this creepy experience to highlight just how easy a trade, a transaction could occur. In the blink of an eye, on a dark confusing street in Ghana, the outcome could have been completely different.

I have so much to be thankful for during my African adventure. I’m especially grateful to those God used (including Cherry) who helped to fulfill the gift of a lifetime and bring me safely home. 100%.

Boiling Point Band- “Brand New Day”
See them live @ Livestock Music Fest