Recently I accepted two challenges:

  1. To cycle 400 kilometers through Rwanda (Africa) in June, with Muskathlon.
  2. To find 10 child sponsors or raise €10,000 for Compassion before that time.

Let me tell you why and how you can be part of this.

Nederlandse Versie

Why cycling?

image_canjyx0w0aaowha_square2Like many, I spend most of my days sitting. In the last few years I tried to play squash weekly, but in practice it’s more like every other week and not enough to maintain a good level of fitness. I tried running, which is great because you can do it any time, but after a knee injury it’s no longer an option. Until this challenge I never thought about cycling, but after a few tours through the Dutch flatlands I liked it a lot!

It both takes and gives me tons of energy!

I cycle outdoors twice a week. On Wednesday I take part in an intensive cycle racing training with my former squash Buddy Jakob Jan.

Why 400km? (250 mi)

I’m someone who needs goals. Going from nothing to 400km at an altitude between 1500 and 2500 meters (5000 – 8000 ft) is a great challenge!

Why Rwanda?

NgenziAs a family we sponsor Ngenzi Christian Child; we have been doing this for 3 years. Ngenzi is 4 days younger than our son David. He lives in Kigali, Rwanda together with his parents, three brothers and three sisters. The second stage of the Muskathlon departs from Kigali so I hope to personally meet Ngenzi.

Rwanda is a beautiful country with surprisingly good roads for cycling. But it is also a country with a violent history. After the genocide in 1994 the country managed to get back on its feet at an incredible pace and leads Africa in many areas. But under the surface many people still deal with terrible traumas and severe poverty.

Thanks to our donation of €1 per day, Ngenzi can go to school and gets any care he needs to offer his future kids more than his parents can now. We regularly write and receive letters and drawings. This allows us to follow how he develops. Different, but fortunately also very similar to our David in many ways.

Why a Muskathlon?

Muskathlon organizes running, climbing and cycling trips worldwide, to challenge participants both physically and mentally. They combine this with a challenge to raise funds for one of their three charity partners.

When I heard about a Muskathlon in Rwanda from Compassion I initially had mixed feelings. Sure, I could use a sporting challenge, I love traveling and of course I’d like to meet Ngenzi and see how Compassion works. But wouldn’t it be better to give the money such a trip would cost to Compassion?

But would it? And why didn’t I consider that when we spent thousands of Euros on a holiday to California last year?

The truth is that by not going to Rwanda I wouldn’t donate a single Euro more or less. Chances are I probably would give more after seeing the need for and the effectiveness of Compassion with my own eyes.

That’s why the financial challenges appeal to me as well and I hope to find 10 child sponsors and/or raise €10,000 in one-time donations. Personally I’d like to find out in what way we could give Ngenzi and his family some additional support, while I’m there.

“Your sweat means more than money”

Former participants of Muskathlons have seen that their visit is valued as much if not more than the money they raise. Personal involvement gives people hope and self-esteem. And often the local attention for the Muskathlon works as a catalyst for new projects.

Why Compassion?

I’ve always liked the personal involvement that comes with child sponsoring. It really helps to be aware of the privilege to be able to raise your family in places like The Netherlands. And as I said the children and communities appreciate the personal involvement as well.

What did it for us was the effectiveness and efficiency of Compassion several people told us about. The transparency, the amazing low overhead of 9% (Compassion NL) and the scientifically proven effect made us decide to sponsor Ngenzi through Compassion.

Compassion strongly believes in the snowball effect that investing in children can bring about and is repeatedly proven right in that.

Did you know that children in Compassion projects have:

  • 27-40% more chance to complete secondary education?
  • 35% more chance to get a well-paid (office)job?
  • 30-75% more chance to become leaders of their community?

Also the collaboration with local churches – without discriminating on ethnicity or religion – appealed to us. Our own experience so far has only increased our trust in Compassion. This summer I hope to witness with my own eyes that Compassion works!

Why 10 child sponsors or €10,000?

Yes, why not 20? ? Becuase it is a big, but realistic challenge. So far the Muskathlons raised more than €6 million, with an average of more than €10,000 for each participant.

My main goal is to find sponsors for 10 kids. With €1 per day and an average sponsorship duration of three years this is valued at €1,000. The monthly donation is spent on education, guidance, medical care, food, awareness programs, sports and also bible education by the local church.

Of course I also understand there are people that are only capable or willing to do a one-time donation. These end up in funds for (temporarily) unsponsored children, care for (expecting) mothers and babies, HIV-AIDS awareness, facilities and so on.

So my overall goal is to find 10 child sponsors, raise €10,000 in one-time donations or a combination. But the more the better!

How will this money be spent?

I want to devote myself for Compassion selflessly. This means that the monthly donations for child sponsorships as well as one-time donations I hope to raise will be for Compassion in full.

NOT on the cost of my trip

I’ll pay all costs for the trip myself. This is about €1,999 plus costs for the bike, transport and vaccinations.

NOT on the Muskathlon organization

The Muskahtlon organization asks a contribution of €90 for every child that finds a sponsor through their campaigns. They also ask 6% of all one-time donations.

However, I have decided that I will take the charge on my account. When we wrap up the campaign the bill from Muskathlon will come to me, not Compassion.

On the limited overhead of Compassion

So the full amount of child sponsorships and one-time donations will come to Compassion. How will Compassion spend this?

One of the most important reasons we like Compassion is that they have a remarkably low overhead. In the last fiscal year of Compassion The Netherlands 91.5% of the funds were spent on the cause. With 5.1% spent on fundraising they are well below the limit of 25% the Dutch Central Bureau on Fundraising demands. No wonder that Compassion is in the top 1% most efficient operating charities in the world.

Directly on the sponsored children

Compassion can be this efficient by delegating the management of local projects to churches so they do not need an expensive organization on the ground. The churches spend the money they receive from Compassion fully on education, guidance, medical care, food, awareness programs, sports and also Bible education for the kids.

You can find more information on Compassion child sponsor program on their website.

Are you in?

You can sponsor a child or donate directly from personal Muskathlon profile. In the coming weeks I hope to contact as many people as I can personally with the frank question to sponsor a child. If you have questions for me, feel free to call or mail me as well of course.

As an international organization, donations to Compassion will likely be tax deductible.

I accepted the challenge. Are you in for yours?