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Women farmers in Myanmar trek up a hill

Waterloo, ON, November 8, 2017 - Laverne Brubacher doesn't consider himself an avid cyclist. But in November the 73-year-old from St. Jacobs, Ont., plans to join 16 other Canadians and three Americans riding 355 km through the South Asian nation of Myanmar. 

All 20 will ride in support of impoverished female farmers, people they have never met. Sixteen others, mostly from the U.S., are supporting the same fund drive by exploring Myanmar on a bus tour.

Each participant has committed to raising at least $5,000. Brubacher set and achieved a goal of raising $10,000. The Myanmar on the Move trip raised a total of $600,000 (

The initiative is sponspored by Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), a Christian international development organization based in Waterloo, Ont., that works to provide business solutions to poverty. It currently has projects in 62 countries including Myanmar.

Myanmar on the Move is part of a larger MEDA project called Improving Market Opportunities for Women, which will help 25,000 female farmers get their products to markets, something Brubacher calls "a pretty compelling thing."

He is particularly impressed with the fact all donations to the project are multiplied almost seven-to-one by Global Affairs Canada for a total value of $4 million.

Several of the participants are making the trip a family affair, including spouses or children. Leamington, Ont., pastor David Dyck is riding with his son Andrew. The cyclists' adventure includes one day of trekking and five days of biking. Distances for cycling days will be 55 km, 70 km, 55 km, 70 km and 105 km.

"The only thing that I'm concerned about is the 105 km one day," Brubacher said. The prospect of visiting a part of the world that has seen a lot of political instability in recent years is not a concern for him.

--This article was originally published on Faith Today by Michael Strathdee