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[Editorial] Cycling for Good: A Father-Daughter Bike Ride Across Ghana
Aurelia and Michael from Samsung Electronics Germany connecting children of Ghana and Germany
Last November, my seven-year-old daughter Aurelia and I embarked on the journey of a lifetime, cycling some 550 kilometers through Ghana with 62 other Ride Africa participants to help raise funds for Child.org.
The NGO was founded by three pediatricians in 2002 with a focus on providing holistic care for orphaned children in Kenya and Ghana. Today, Child.org continues to work towards a world where every child has an equal opportunity.
To accomplish this, they remove the barriers children face to getting a good education, which tend to differ from community to community. Based on the extensive data that they collect, their initiatives might include a deworming program in one village, school feeding in another and bike lending in yet another.
The organization’s most recent venture, Ride Africa, provided an opportunity to help both German and Ghanaian children explore the numerous possibilities of digital learning and experience new technologies.
Getting Into Gear
Having cycled with Child.org in 2014 from Uganda to Kenya, I was able to personally experience the amazing work the NGO does. Together with 50 other riders, we were able to raise £150,000 GBP for schools, street children centers and feeding centers in rural areas.
Understanding that every one of us has the ability to help others in need, I decided to take the journey again. This time, I also took along my daughter, knowing that it would be a wonderful opportunity for her to broaden her worldview and to better understand the importance of being a good global citizen.
We rode across Ghana from Axim to Hohoe, cycling through villages and stopping to chat with the locals at nearby schools and projects that our raised funds will help support.
Many of the children we met are not able to go to school, due to factors such as illness, a lack of transportation or having to support their families by working. Girls, in particular, have limited access to education, as they often face barriers including domestic work, early marriage or pregnancy.
Despite our differences, our interactions with the locals were marked by a heartfelt atmosphere, mutual respect and genuine interest in our own native countries.
A New Perspective
As part of an intercultural exchange, we gave local children the opportunity to virtually experience Germany for themselves. With help from Corporate Citizenship Department at Samsung Germany, the Samsung Lighthouse School – centres of excellence for digital learning across Europe – and a number of schools throughout Germany, we developed a 360-degree video that illustrated school life in Germany.
In addition to showing images of the campuses, we shot interviews with students who introduced themselves and expressed their interest in the children of Ghana.
Together with Child.org and a primary school in Santrokofi Bume, the content was shown to the Ghanaian students via Samsung Gear VR headsets. Both German and Ghanaian children then interviewed one another, which was recorded with the Gear360 and later shown to students at the Samsung Lighthouse School.
This approach provided a good way to promote a mutual understanding of one another as global citizens. Furthermore, the VR technology allowed the students to immersively experience the similarities and differences of each other’s cultures in an entirely new and unique way. Virtual reality will continue to be used to enhance lessons at the schools as well as in other Child.org projects to foster global understanding and mutual respect.
Creating a Better Tomorrow
In total, Aurelia, the other riders and I raised more than £215,000 GBP. These donations will be used to support various Child.org projects. Included among them is the ‘School Garden Project’ in Hohoe, which provides agricultural education to students of all ages to help to improve nutrition within the community.
Child.org will also use some of the funds to help to evolve their HealthStart program. This innovative project provides children in primary schools in Western Kenya with health intervention services and health promotion education. By working with school leaders and using digital tech, Child.org and their partners can better provide targeted solutions based on actual needs.
At the end of our ride, all bikes were donated to the Shape Lives Foundation in Hohoe. Via the organization’s Bike Library, children living far away from their school can borrow bikes to reduce their journey time. Not only does this help keep the students safe and healthy, but it also allows them to spend more time in the classroom.