MEDA in the News

Picton’s Sarah French will get wheels turning for women of Ghana

Source: "Picton's Sarah French will get wheels turning for women of Ghana" on countylive.ca

Sarah French with Ingemann in NicaraguaSarah French plans to get the wheels turning on a project to help "GROW" opportunities for rural women.

French spent seven months in Nicaragua as an intern last year to work with farmers on sustainable development projects and witnessed the toll of poverty on its citizens, especially women.

As a student at PECI, she was accepted to live in Argentina as a Rotary exchange student in 2007/2008 and that is where the passion for travel and new cultures began. During her International Relations studies at Carleton University, she went to Spain in 2011/2012 as an exchange student.

"But it was in Nicaragua I really got to see poverty for the first time, first-hand," said French. "I was travelling to remote areas and interviewing farmers who were in the MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) project to see the influence the program had on them. I also rented a room from a very poor Nicaraguan family. I was personally touched by the issues they face."

MEDA, she says is a passionate organization and she wanted to "give back".

Sara French and Mary FehrShe and a friend plan to get on their bicycles in May and take an 8,710 km trek across Canada starting from British Columbia in a "Bike to Grow" project to share stories and raise funds in communities along the way for GROW – Greater Rural Opportunities for Women, in Ghana. The project helps women grow and market soybeans and improving food security for families.

"Along with poverty, I also saw a huge inequality for females. Mary Fehr, the girl I am biking with, was in Tanzania with MEDA and we kept in touch and talked about these issues. We thought it would be symbolic with two girls biking across Canada to support another MEDA project that focuses on female independence."

She and Mary are in communication with Arvid Loewen, who is in the Guinness Book of World Records for biking across Canada in 13 days. They plan to travel from May to September to allow for speaking engagments along the way.

"He has been kind enough to give Mary and I some help. He is from Winnipeg and we communicate via email. As well, Mary and I will be taking all of April off to train more intensely as the bike trip is starting May 15th."

Dedication to humanitarian work started at PECI then flourished in university.

"When I was in university I was a vice-president of a university non-profit organization, Humanitarian Organization for Latin American Students (HOLAs). We raised money with parties and bake sales for things such as the earthquake in Chilli and Haiti and helping to build a well for a school. During my fourth year of university I went on an exchange to Pamplona, Spain to attend university in 2011/2012. I came back to Carleton in 2012 to finish my studies in International Relations and graduated in 2013. During my last year I applied for internships and job opportunities where I could gain international experience and after three interviews and a Spanish test, got an internship with MEDA.

Between now and the bike trip, she is living in Quebec City to improve her French.

Sarah invites County residents to support, and learn more about the journey. They will be paying their own airfare and costs, have purchased their bikes and are now training. Their fundraising goal is $150,000 – 100 per cent of funds going to the GROW project.

Visit biketogrow.com for more information, Click social media links to follow: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

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