Saturday, January 23

Riding with Purpose and other news...

I continue to struggle to get it together! I am contemplating some tough decisions regarding work, decisions that will either free me up significantly and leave me with the time I need to get some projectS underway; or, decisions that will restrict my ability to do some of the things I love doing. Either way, I’ve got to make some changes...

I have embarked on a couple of documentary photography projects, which I’m planning to use as a entry to teaching visual sociology. The first project involves documentary style photographs of grandparents rearing grandchildren. I will spend some time with them, conduct interviews and put the narratives and images together. The second project is motorcycle related! It focuses on photographing and interviewing women solo riders. I would travel around to meet the women and spend time engaged in ethnographic, “interviews as conversations.” The women must be solo riders and hopefully they are LD (long distance) riders too. I am quite excited about both of these projects.

I also have a third project in mind and would like the readers feedback on it. I have been thinking about riding with purpose. I am finishing up a book by Nicholas D. Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, called Half the Sky. I recommend it to anyone. But prepare to be transformed. It is not an easy read but it is a necessary one in my opinion. Half the Sky is about many things; mostly, it is about human being’s inhumanity to each other. In some ways, it is a depressing read, but the book is replete with hope. It deals with violence against women, infanticide, human trafficiking, children bought and sold into sexual slavery, acid burnings of women by scorned men. The book doesn’t just document horror stories; it balances out the horror by including amazing stories of human triumph and survival over adversity. It’s a book of action too. It lists aide organizations, charities, foundations, and programs whose great humanitarian works too often operate on slim budgets stretched to the max. The question, “What can I do?” is fully answered in this book.

The book has so moved me that I have decided to do some purposeful riding this season. This is nothing novel. Motorcycle groups do charity rides all the time. Walks, runs, bikes and hikes for breast cancer are not uncommon. Many diseases have given birth to clever organized physical exertion. I recall one of the stories of a woman living in a rural area of India or Africa who because she was far from a hospital, had to ride on a motorcycle to get to a hospital. Under normal situations, I can’t imagine a motorcycle ride that isn’t fun. But I’ve given birth. The thought of riding a motorcycle in the middle of labor makes my brain hurt as I write this. But for these woman the bike was a welcome sight. (Motorcycle transport in healthcare)


Here are three of my ideas: 1) Ride to purchase a small cc motorcycle. In some countries the easiest and least expensive way for healthcare workers to get to rural areas is via two wheels. Many women never receive prenatal care because they are unable to get to a clinic/hospital. A motorcycle will allow healthcare to come to them. (Motorcycle transport)

Ride to purchase a motorcycle ambulance. I didn’t even know such vehicles existed. I can’t imagine these being very comfortable either if you’re in active labor but it is clearly better than nothing--and it’s all relative. 3) The work of hospitals that repair obstetric fistulas needs help. Fistulas often turn women into pariahs when left unrepaired. Shunned by their communities and families, women with fistulas can die unnecessarily. Most fistulas are the result of obstructed childbirth, which is highly related to 1) and 2). (More motorcycle transport)

I have some ideas about how I can make these work, but I’m open to reader suggestions as I can probably only pull off funding one of these ideas. I’m also receptive to partnerships that include other’s doing a charity ride, so to speak, to support/donate to the charity I select. More to come... (Still more motorcycle transport)


Conchscooter said...

I have been donating to Partners in Health for a long time. They do good reliable work in Haiti, religion-free and on the ground giving advanced medical care and training local people to serve their own communities as nurses. They are unique in that they were there before the quake (before most people noticed Haiti starving) and are able to do the work that needs to be done more than ever now.
It's easy enough to give effectively without making a song and dance about it. They get a monthly payment and I ride to please myself.

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Conchscooter, thanks for your helpful feedback. I hope that everyone in Partners in Health have been safely accounted for in Haiti. I have close friends from Haiti and have long followed the country's situation.

Each year, my charitable contributions are done without much direct involvement. It goes to an organization that I know does great work. This year, I want to get directly involved with a project. I will look into the works of Partners in Health. Thanks!

D. Brent Miller said...

Sharon, you certainly have covered a lot of ground in this post. It's like another Butt Burner. I think the idea of riding with purpose is a good one, but I'm going to have to think about how this one can be done other than the traditional Charity Ride. Riding for Awareness might be a possibility. Even though Charlie and Ewan were on long distance rides, and making a film, they were representing, I think, Unicef, making stops and visiting with funded facilities. Writing about those stops increases awareness.

I'm going to put more thought into this one. --Brent

Bluekat said...

I read Half the Sky over Christmas vacation this year. You're right. It's an amazing, depressing and hopeful read. I don't have any advice, but wish you the best in your endeavors. We too are making decisions on the charities and/or issues we want to support this year. Lately on Haiti, but also on other ongoing issues around the world.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sojourner:

The topics you address are so significant and purposeful, that anything I write seems trite and without substance by comparision. (That's because it is, but I have learned to live with it.)

Yet they are issues that have gone unaddressed and unchanged for far too long. I have long since been a supporter of the Christian Children's Fund, and make a monthly payment to a family in Uganda. (They work so hard and have so little to show for it.) But as you point out, this is passive activity.

My riding the club, the Mac Pac sponsored my girlfriend in the Three-Day Breast Cancer walk two years ago, raising $1500 at a small barbeque.

Yet these are only single measures that are like small stones dropped in the torrent. I wish you luck in your endeavors, and you know the door is always open here when you decide to hit Valley Forge or Gettysburg for your stamp.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Brent, thanks! I'm thinking more on this as well. Whatever you come up with...I'm all ears.

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

bluekat, thanks so much--very glad to hear from someone who has read the book and share my experience with it. Maybe that the times are making many of us take a closer look at daily living and giving. Thanks again.

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Jack, thank you as always.

While our topics may differ, I would contendthat we have a similar goal/purpose. At the core of our writing is, I think, a desire to move others as we've been moved by something or someone. We may take different routes to achieve that goal, but the outcome, IMHO, is the same.

When my soul needs a belly laugh and when my spirits are sinking, I know where to go. Thank you.

irondad said...

I would suggest following your heart. The mechanics will follow.

Practical help is great but it always seems to me like a bandage. Very necessary, but not addressing what caused the wound in the first place.

If only we could raise awareness and help eliminate apathy. Get people off their duffs to actually do something about it. Kind of like leveraging our own efforts to a greater effect. That would be a worthwhile goal, me thinks.