Source: "2 Mennonite Women Cycling to Aid 20,000 Women in Ghana" by Aisha Abdelhamid for EdenKeeper
Cycling across Canada on a mission
On a mission to support women soybean farmers in Northern Ghana, two young women will undertake a four-month bike ride across Canada to raise $150,000. The money will go to Mennonite Economic Development Associates' GROW project in Ghana. GROW, or Greater Rural Opportunities for Women, is a six-year project to help improve the incomes and food security of 20,000 women and their families.
"Bike to GROW," the name of Sarah French and Mary Fehr's mission, is scheduled to begin on May 18 in Victoria, British Columbia, and conclude on September 5 in Leamington, Ontario. On their way East across the length of Canada, Sarah and Mary plan to speak with locals about Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), the GROW project, and their experience, making strategic stops at Mennonite churches, community centers, and MEDA chapters.
Not Your Typical 20-Somethings
Recently participating in a Mennonite Economic Development Associates intern program, Sarah French worked in Nicaragua on an agriculture project. Mary Fehr worked in Tanzania on a health project. Both saw the beneficial impact of their projects, as women were being helped out of poverty and they started looking for ways to become more involved.
Sarah remarked, "The GROW project is assisting 20,000 women farmers and their families to sustainably emerge from poverty. Mary and I wanted to support a project that focused on women because we saw the gender inequalities while on our own internships." Sarah continued, "It couldn't be more symbolic: Two women cycling across Canada representing independent, self-sufficient women."
Mary added, "I love to take on a challenge and prove to myself that absolutely anything is possible with willpower and determination." She added, "Sarah and I cannot fail, especially with the amazing support we've received. We're no longer just biking for ourselves but for all of MEDA, MEDA's supporters and of course, the women and families in Ghana."
Mennonite Economic Development Associates
Mennonite Economic Development Associates, or MEDA, was founded in 1953 by a group of Mennonite business professionals. An international economic development organization, its mission is to alleviate poverty through business solutions. Affirming that "all people deserve the opportunity to earn a livelihood," they furthermore believe that "unleashing entrepreneurship is a powerful way to alleviate poverty."
With a full range of entrepreneurial expertise, MEDA works in developing nations, partnering with the poor to start or grow small and medium-sized businesses. Focusing on women, youth, and the rural poor, Mennonite Economic Development Associates offer business training, technology upgrades, financial services, equity investment, and improved access to markets.
Sharing Life-Changing Stories Across Canada
Coordinator of Engagement Initiatives Ethan Eshbach said, "It's really inspiring to see Sarah and Mary's passion for how MEDA works and their determination to succeed for women in Ghana." Eshbach noted, "Bike to GROW has encouraged many people to join us in our mission to create business solutions to poverty. Anyone can help by offering financial support, a place to sleep or by organizing a local event."
Sarah and Mary both agreed, and pointed out how right it feels to use their ride as a chance to give back to the wonderful work that Mennonite Economic Development Associates does every day.
GROW Country Project Manager Catherine Sobrevega said, "We're so blessed and honored that women like Sarah and Mary want to support our efforts to empower women as entrepreneurs here in Ghana." Sobrevega spoke highly of the women of Ghana, saying, "These women work hard and persevere every day to provide for their families. You can see their smiles when they learn new things, produce a good harvest and have income because of our support." Speaking of Sarah and Mary, Sobrevega said, "It's exciting to know their life-changing stories are going to be shared across Canada. Our team will include both of them in our prayers. May they remain strong and safe throughout this memorable journey for GROW."
Amen! Watch for updates here on EdenKeeper of these two young women, Sarah French and Mary Fehr, as their "Bike to Grow" journey across Canada progresses.