Ratanak International & Cambodia
The organization that the EPIC Riders are supporting is Ratanak International. Ratanak International is a Christ-centred non-profit organization that gives aid to the oppressed people of Cambodia. Ratanak mainly gives relief to people who are oppressed by the sex trade in Cambodia, because it is the most urgent moral issue present in the country at this time. The organization also gives relief to the poor and vulnerable. Ratanak workers give relief in many ways, including coaching many Cambodians to produce food or goods, giving shelter to many of the homeless, building schools and orphanages for underpriveleged children, and bringing companionship and the love of Christ to Cambodians who are suffering or in jail.
Ratanak International was first conceived when Brian McConaghy, the founder and current director, visited Cambodian refugee camps, and Cambodia itself, in 1989,and found the living conditions unbelievable. He was gripped by the suffering, and started projects to provide care and relief to the Cambodian people. The name "Ratanak" came to Brian when he viewed a documentary about a little Cambodian girl named Ratanak. She died of a preventable illness simply because there was no medicine to save her. Brian started caring for the needs of these people back in 1989, and he has inspired many others to do the same.
Since its formation, Ratanak International has reached out to thousands of people in need through dozens of programs. Ratanak cannot do this without support, which is why the EPIC Riders are cycling across Canada. We hope to inspire many to give to the people of Cambodia, so that they will be able to live sustainably and without oppression. You can donate to Ratanak International by following the instructions in the Donate section of the EPIC Riders webpage.
From Luke Lewis, EPIC Rider and Team Medic. Posted on his blog on January 3rd, 2013:
Long time no blog.
I haven't exactly been good with this whole blogging thing. I think that when my life gets busy I just forget to do a lot of stuff. Like my laundry. Does anyone else have this problem too?
I'm supposed to be blogging about my cycling team, the EPIC Riders, and my progress with training. Well, if you don't know, I'm biking across Canada this summer. My team's name is the EPIC Riders and we're raising support for this organization called Ratanak International. They help oppressed people in Cambodia.
Cambodia is a country near Thailand in Asia. Let's just say that it's been through some rough times. There was a civil war, and the living conditions are really bad there. What's even worse is the fact that children and young girls are kidnapped by slavers who turn them into prostitutes in brothels. Whether they have no parents, or even if they do, no one has the power to stop these men, because the government is corrupt and weak.
I'm going onto Google right now and I type in "Phnom Penh sex trade". Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia. The first article is from the University of Rhode Island. That's a trustworthy source. The article is basically a collection of other quotes about Cambodian sex trafficking. If you look inside the article, which is a little outdated, you can read that approximately 15 000 women are sex slaves in Phnom Penh alone.
I thought slavery was abolished like a billion years ago! I can't even justify having one slave! A slave isn't just a slave. A slave is a REAL person. Like you. Or me. Apparently these slaves are usually around 15 to 18 years old! These are highschool-age girls!
Let's take a step back for a moment. The average highschool population around my area is 1500. The Cambridge schools average about 1000, and the K-W schools have double. There are 17 public highschools and 5 Catholic highschools in Waterloo Region. There's also a French highschool that might have 200 students in it, and a Christian highschool with even less students. If you don't like math, don't worry. I'm doing it for you :) So that's 22 secondary schools (not counting the French or Christian) with about 1500 students each.
22 X 1500 = 33 000
Half of the students are girls.
33 000 / 2 = 16 500
Round down to eliminate overcalculation. 15 000
Now, imagine all of the highschool girls in Waterloo Region, and there's about 15 000. Could you believe it if they were all enslaved in brothels around Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge? That's INSANE. Why should we have a place on Earth like that?
I don't know if you believe in God, or Jesus Christ. If you do and you're ignoring this, YOU'RE INSANE. If you don't, you have to believe in some sort of moral system. Let's look at an example. All of us have the capacity to do good things and the capacity to do bad things. Our world is somewhere in between being totally good and totally evil. We can't bow down to our evil desires, because then we're asking the question: Where is the line? Where do we stop?
Can you imagine a world that is totally evil? I don't want to. Somehow we've come to the conclusion that the line where we stop is somewhere after enslaving 15 000 girls in a single city.
You might say, "Why should I care? Those people are on the other side of the globe. They don't affect me." Don't you care about anyone? Do you have children? Siblings? Parents? Close friends? You don't even want to think about a situation where one of them is enslaved and raped countless times. I know you would do everything in your power and maybe even outside that to stop said situation. The people who are being oppressed are just like your loved ones. Equally human. And human life is valuable. We can't overlook a situation like this.
Are we robots?
Now we come to you as the EPIC Riders and ask, "Can you give anything to stop the inhumanity? Can you even give $5? The price of one trip to Starbucks?" We're giving our talents as cyclists, and the funds that we can, to encourage other people such as yourself to give as well.
I would be surprised if more than one person got to the end of this blog. My brother just walked in and said that I'm guilt-tripping. Whatever, he's argumentative by nature and I don't mind doing a little guilt-tripping. Maybe someone will listen. Oh well, it was worth it anyways ;) I hope you had a great Christmas! Keep going with those New Year's resolutions!
So if you're interested in Ratanak International or EPIC Riders, go to:
We're both on the Facebook and Tweeter
Maybe I am too long-winded
For more information on Ratanak, check out these links to their website:
Who We Are - Organization
Who We Are - History