Why? Why would anyone want to do that? Well, Restore International needs our help. Restore is a non-profit I’ve been involved with for the past year (I’ve been involved with their Launch scholarship, it’s seriously the coolest).
[Restore Leadership Academy graduates on graduation day! Photo courtesy of Restore International.]
They're a non-profit that started all the way back in 2003. They began with efforts to free those bonded in slavery & sex trafficking in India. In 2006, they began working in Uganda in the education field. Bob Goff, the founder, and Restore are responsible for the first conviction of a witch doctor for trafficking body parts in the history of Uganda. The witch doctor, George Kabi, got 50 years in prison.
Before we go any further, we need to get a little background and gain some understanding of some of the culture of Uganda. Did you know the average age in Uganda is 15 and ½ years old ? 15 and a half. Generations before have been wiped out due to the civil war that tore apart the region. In Uganda, if you are a father and don’t want a certain boy hanging out with your daughter, you can simply accuse them of defilement, and the boy will be placed in prison to await trial. Here’s the thing, often times the boys are left in prison for up to four years, and even then haven’t even seen trial. Enter Restore International. Restore provides legal assistance & has brought more than 200 trials to court to relieve children of imprisonment without trial.
They have since expanded their operation and now operate a fully-fledged boarding school in Gulu, Uganda, the Restore Leadership Academy.
[Some Restore Leadership Academy graduates on graduation day! Photo courtesy of Restore International.]
The school began as a one-room schoolhouse in 2007, has grown into a fully-fledged boarding school that now has more than 300 students and 35 teachers. The school is one of the top school’s in Uganda for academic performance and has some of the top performing sports teams. They play a lot of soccer! Most of the students at the school are former child soldiers, victims of sex trafficking or orphans. Most of the money raised from the bike tour will go to the Restore Leadership Academy. It’ll help buy textbooks, scholarships, uniforms and classrooms.
[Some graduates from the Launch scholarship. Photo courtesy of Restore International.]
They also operate two safe houses in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, for underage girls who have been victims of sex trafficking and sexual assault. The safe houses provide a home, health care, counselling and therapy. They’re also in the process of opening up a new safe house in Somalia, for women who have been victims of gender-based violence. They’ve also just opened an orphanage in Nepal in September of this year.
This next part is my favourite part of Restore’s story. In 2013, they opened a new school for traditional healers and witch doctors. The goal was for graduates of the Restore Leadership Academy to teach these witch doctors, a group of people who are normally shunned and marginalized by society, how to read and write. Engaging witch doctors and traditional healers, people who are often involved with the sex trade or human trafficking, is changing the landscape. The school graduated 47 people in October 2013 with adult literacy certificates. This is awesome. Remember George Kabi, the witch doctor I mentioned at the start? Kabi & Bob (the founder of Restore) visit often. George has turned his life around. Bob, the man responsible for putting Kabi in prison, is also the man who helped him find true freedom. It’s the coolest story. Restore will fight like mad to protect children in Uganda from witch doctors but is committed to working with them to change their lives.
"Our graduates showed an entire community how to love better by taking the time to sit and teach a group of people most would consider ‘untouchable’. We couldn't be more proud of these kids and the way they love."
[Some students at the Restore Leadership Academy. Photo courtesy of Restore International.]
So back to why you’re reading this post. I’m biking across California this May. I need your help. I need to raise 6,000$ (CAD) for the trip. I’ll be riding from Monterey, California down to San Diego, CA. I have no idea where the money is going to come from, I know I don’t have all of it.
[That's me! I'll be biking across California this May! Photo courtesy of Simon Reid .]
But I know I need to be on this trip. I feel called to it. I trust that the funds will show up. So I’m doing this, not knowing where all of the money will come from. That’s where you come in. Your donations go to Restore International and help fund the tour. Funds will go to the Restore Leadership Academy in particular, giving the students there a chance for new books, new uniforms for their sports team, improved meals and better health care. I’m asking for anything. Can you give 20$? Perfect! Can you give 50$? That’s amazing? 100$? Awesome! Thank you! Your donations, no matter the size, will change their lives.
Let me know if you have any questions or want to know more. I’d love to chat.
And if you want to talk to Bob Goff, the guy who started it all, you can call him at [phone redacted]. Yes. That’s really his cell phone number, I promise. You won’t regret calling him.
We’re going on an old fashioned caper, and I’d love your support. Won’t you join us?
PS: I've got a few copies of Bob's book, Love Does up for grabs. If you donate more than $25, you'll go in a random draw for a copy. The book is phenomenal & super fun to read. So what are you waiting for!?!
- denise bustard
- Geoff Murray
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