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Bicycles, boats, and boda bodas

  • May 07, 2019
Emily Towns
Emily Towns

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The old, wooden boat slid its way through the waters of Lake Kivu. The boat’s passengers steered the vessel, laden with heavy boxes of food, toward Ishwa Island in Rwanda. They could see the shoreline, which could only be reached by boat, in the distance — full of people cheering and singing with thankful hearts.

Earlier that day, those boxes of food had arrived in Rwanda in a shipping container. And long before that, the supplies sat in a warehouse in Virginia, waiting to be packed and shipped. But because of volunteers and faithful donors like you, that food made its way across oceans, countries, and continents to reach a group of hungry children.

“It speaks to the desperation of people when they use what they have or can afford to rent, to reach and distribute the product we have sent,” said Josh Brewer, World Help’s director of humanitarian aid.

Thanks to the World Help family, many shipments of food, clean water, clothing, medical equipment, hygiene kits, furniture, and more have made their way to people who were desperate for hope. This year, more goods are ready to be sent — supplies that you can help ship either by volunteering in our distribution center or by giving to cover the cost of shipping!

And like the people of Ishwa Island, individuals are waiting with boats, bicycles, and small motorbikes, ready to transport aid to those desperately waiting for it.

Here are some ways the lifesaving aid you help ship are delivered:

By bicycle or motorbike

In countries across Africa and Asia, bicycles and small motorbikes called boda bodas are a primary mode of transportation. It is not unusual to see a family of four plus the pet goat squeezed onto the small seat. And when a group of pastors arrived at a shipping container in Rwanda to unload supplies, they brought along their trusty, old bicycles.

“Each box weighs about 40 pounds, and they each loaded five boxes on a bicycle,” Josh said. “That’s how they’re getting them back to their villages.”

Every time a shipment of food arrived, these pastors got on their bikes and pedaled the dusty miles to reach the shipping container. But that was nothing compared to the return trip. Their bicycles loaded down with the cumbersome boxes, the men found the ride home much slower and more exhausting.

But it was worth it. The pastors knew each box of food equaled lives saved. Each box of food equaled hope for the future — and that hope make the ride a bit easier.  

By boat

Covering over 1,000 square miles, Lake Kivu is one of Africa’s largest lakes. The remote Ishwa Island sits isolated in its southern tip. The island is home to thousands of Rwandans, most of whom suffer from extreme poverty and malnutrition. So our partner and his fellow pastors and teachers knew they couldn’t let the isolation stop them from reaching out to the people in need there.

The group formed an assembly line to unload boxes of food and other supplies from a shipping container. Laughing and singing, they loaded the boxes onto an old, small, wooden boat. The group stacked as many boxes as possible in the vessel and began their journey.

As their boat sliced through the water, the pastors and teachers began to watch and listen. Finally, they heard it — singing. Waiting on the shoreline was a group of men, women, and small children. They ran down the shore, shouting and singing and welcoming the boat … grateful for the gift of food that would help save their lives.

By foot

The journey did not stop once the boat hit the shore. To reach their homes, the villagers who greeted the boat had to walk up a very steep hill. One by one, they grabbed as many boxes of food as they could carry. Then, balancing the boxes on their heads, they began the trek home.

But when they reached their village, their reward was waiting. Gathered was a group of hungry but happy children — ready to eat.

By you

Communities like Ishwa Island are located all around the world. And residents are willing to do whatever it takes to get food, medical equipment, and other resources. They are desperate, but you can meet them where they are by volunteering to help pack the supplies they need in our warehouse or by giving to help ship that emergency relief.

The journey begins with you … a compassionate person who wants to help. Your involvement means a container of aid will arrive overseas so it can then be distributed — whether by bicycle, boat, or boda boda — to people who are struggling.

Every hour of your time you spend volunteering in World Help’s distribution center equals around $2,326 worth of lifesaving supplies packed and ready to impact an average of 81 people!

Can’t volunteer? A financial gift of just $30 is enough to cover the cost of shipping for $630 worth of aid!

You can help send boxes of food to fill canoes and bicycles in Rwanda … shipments of medical equipment and hygiene kits to be distributed out of old trucks in Syria … and blankets and clothing to be carried one by one to families in need.

But you don’t just help ship physical aid … supplies are often distributed by pastors and other believers, just like on Ishwa Island. By meeting physical needs, you open the door for these men and women to share the Gospel.

Right now, our warehouse is full of items ready to package and ship. These supplies are ready to travel by boat, by truck, by bicycle, or by foot to reach people who are sick and starving. The only thing missing is you. Will you go the distance and volunteer or give to help ship medical supplies, food, and more to people who are dying?

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