Skate FAR (For a Reason) 2014
Organized by: Ryan François
RAGBRAI is an annual bicycle ride across the state of Iowa that has drawn over 275,650 riders since starting in 1973. In 2012, Devin Harschnek became the first to complete the entire 400+ mile route on a skateboard, raising $1300 for the Special Olympics of Iowa along the way. In 2013, he jumped back on the board to finish the ride again and raise over $700 for the national Tourette Syndrome Association.
This summer Devin is joined by his friend Ryan Francois, and together they will longboard across the state to help a young priest in Arusha, Tanzania construct a new church & community center in a rural Maasai village.
Father Festus Mangwangi is a priest with the Archdiocese of Arusha, and works in several outlying Maasai villages to alleviate poverty. The Maasai in the area are primarily nomadic herders and some of the poorest East Africans. Ryan met Fr. Mangwangi while working on a documentary film project in Tanzania earlier this summer, and his small team was invited to speak at the church in one of the most remote villages the Archdiocese serves.
Some of the people who attend services in the village live in traditional boma homes several miles away, yet everyone was there early and conversing genially around the church. As they entered for the service the small mud-walled building quickly filled, and many families sat in the shade to listen from outside. Although the congregation has very little, they generously gave what they could as a tithe, in almost all cases a small bag of grain. And despite their material poverty, the people were rich in faith and hope, nearly lifting the tin roof off the building with their joyful hymns and dancing.
Before Ryan and his two colleagues left the village, Father Mangwangi walked them up a hill to the site of an empty building shell. He explained that, although the Archdiocese had no money to help the people beyond seed donations for food crops and monthly church services, the village had decided to build itself a larger, more-permanent building to serve as a church and community center. So far, the construction project had been entirely funded by tribe members saving a portion of their small income from livestock sale, and had been ongoing for several months.
We ask that you consider helping to actualize this project by donating to this year's Skate FAR campaign. All funds raised will go to the Archdiocese of Arusha specifically for the costs of remaining material and external labor necessary to complete the church & community center. Thank you for your generosity, and providing a permanent home for hope & dignity in the lives of East Africa's rural poor.