To advance our goal of helping to reshape child welfare services and support in Perú, Health Bridges International runs two homes for formerly abandoned youth, one in the desert city of Ica, the other in the Sacred Valley of Cusco.
Many of the youth come from unfathomable conditions — situations no child should endure. The Casa Girasoles, or Sunflower Homes, lift these children out of poverty, abuse, and exploitation. The homes provide structure, love, and most importantly a future..
We use cycling as a mechanism for healing.
EQUIPO DE CICLISMO
Jean Paul (not his real name) grew up in a home with five other brothers and sisters. From the moment he could remember, nothing was easy in his life. This was particularly true about finding stability on a day-to-day basis.
His mother worked every day in the fields, and his father was rarely home. Most of his childhood was spent raising himself and his younger brothers and sisters. By the time he was 8, he was spending most of his time on the streets looking for ways to make some money, or searching for something - anything - that he could bring home to his brothers and sisters. Soon what little time he did spend going back home ended.
When he came to live with us at the age of 11, he was pretty hard into the streets. The one thing that made him open up, and talk, was riding a bicycle. When he was on the bike, everything seemed to flow. Discussions, challenges, and even fears - all came to the surface.
The bicycle became a mechanism for a deeper connection. It became a portal to healing.
Today, Jean Paul rides on the Casa Girasoles Cycling Team. And at 16 years old, he's a mentor and leader in our Casa Girasoles home for formerly abandoned children. He has connection with his brothers and sisters, and even his mother comes to visit every once in a while. But more than anything else, he's begun to forge his own life and to think about what his future will look like. And a big part of that has been because of the time he spent on his bicycle.
The Casa Girasoles Cycling Team, it's more than just riding a bicycle.
It is moving to a new life. It is a bridge to the future.
THE CASA GIRASOLES BICYCLE
So far the team has managed pretty well with their old, heavily-used bicycles. But in order to be eligible for participation in sanctioned events, the team must possess a “national” level of equipment and clothing. This includes a “high end” bicycle with disc brakes, integrated shifting, wheels and tires in an excellent operational state, and personal cycling equipment including a team jersey and shorts, matching socks and helmet.
We're working to provide the boys with equipment that is durable, efficient, and suitable for the extremely rough surfaces they encounter in the desert environment near Ica. We've specified a robust steel frame outfitted with sturdy wheels and tires, disc brakes, and a dependable, smooth-shifting gear train that can endure heavy use and help the boys to be competitive.
ONE INCREDIBLE MISSION
Portland is a city that understands two things better than any other: bikes and coffee. So we figured why not leverage them both to transform the lives of young men right here in the Northwest – and 5,000 miles away in Ica, Perú.
To do that, we've teamed up with Braking Cycles, a Portland non-profit putting a spin on traditional methods of helping troubled youth build hope and tangible job skills. Now, in addition to just learning the ins and outs of brewing coffee and fixing bikes through apprenticeship programs, we’re giving them the option to custom build a handful of bikes as a graduation project. Once completed, the bikes will be delivered to the Casa Girasoles Cycling Team in Ica, Perú.
A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE
We can’t overstate how impactful this kind of project is for everyone involved. Here in Portland, these young men are able to work together, as a team, to develop practical skills they can then, in turn, use to transform the lives of others like them far away in the Southern Hemisphere. And in Perú, not only do the young cyclists get a new bike they can use for training and competition, they also receive the gift of friendship and camaraderie.
EVERY CYCLIST IS ONLY
AS GOOD AS THEIR
Your help is needed and there are a number of ways you can make this project a reality:
Generate awareness by spreading the word among your friends, cycling group, Church or civic community (mention in weekly announcements, at leadership meetings, pre-service slides, etc.)
Create a buzz among fellow cyclists and encourage them to donate by visiting the link below.
Consider completely funding one or more of the team bikes being built here in Portland. Each bike costs about $1,300 to build and transport to Perú.