So, at long last I have decided on a charity to support during the trip. I wanted to choose a charity based on a number of personal preferences, namely that it should support a – what I think to be – an under-represented area of sustainable development in the third world, be a smaller charity so that any money and awareness I can raise will make a difference, and be relevant to the parts of the world I’ll be cycling through. Although it wasn’t possible to find a charity that fit all these fully, I have found one that I think to be very important, and only compromising on the final preference.
The Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) is a charity dedicated to improving the education of girls in Africa. In Africa especially, girls have the poorest access to education, but not because of any prejudice against educating girls, but because of poverty. In a continent where most families struggle to pay for education for even one child, given the choice, most families will choose to educate their son, rather than daughter. However, female education can help so much in the fight to eradicate poverty. An educated women is far less likely to contract HIV/AIDS, can manage a families finances, and can become the next generation of social and business entrepreneurs.
Ann Cotton OBE started the charity in 1993 by fundraising enough money to send 32 girls in Zimbabwe to school. By 2003, CAMFED had been named International Aid and Development Charity of the Year, and in 2005 with an income of over £2m their educational programmes in Africa supported 246,525 children. CAMFED supports a long term improvement in a girls education, making a minimum of a five year financial commitment to support them through education and young adulthood. The cost of making a real difference is not high, just £6 a month or £72 a year will support a girl in education, but will make a lifetime of difference to her.
In time I will have a sponsorship page online where you will be able to pledge or donate, and please give generously. It isn’t much to ask for £6 a month – and the way I think of it, every two weeks just have one less pint at the pub (at London prices anyway).