Ride for Refuge!

This year Villages of Hope-Africa is taking part in
Ride for Refuge

By joining a Villages of Hope-Africa team and/or supporting the Ride for Refuge, you are not only supporting Ride for Refuge and their work with refugees, the exploited, and the vulnerable, but you are also helping raise awareness for Villages of Hope and raise funds to help us continue to help children in need throughout Africa.

What is “The RIDE”?

Ride for Refuge is a fundraising bike marathon that helps bring support and awareness to various charitable organizations (such as Villages of Hope!). From their website: “The Ride for Refuge helps churches and charities fund and promote their work with people who are displaced, vulnerable, and exploited” (find out more HERE).

How is Villages of Hope Involved?

This year, Villages of Hope is taking part in The RIDE by allowing teams to register under our name and raise money for VOH. Currently we have six registered teams (in Brampton, North Bay, Vancouver, and Waterloo) who will all be riding for us.

How Can You Be Involved?

There are several ways to get involved with Villages of Hope in the Ride for Refuge.

1. Register a team – get together some friends and/or coworkers and register a team to ride for Villages of Hope! To register, go to: www.rideforrefuge.org/partner/vohafrica

2. Join a team – if you aren’t sure about starting a team of your own, why not join a team? To join, go to: www.rideforrefuge.org/partner/vohafrica and click on a team from your area (from the yellow box on the right). You will be directed to this team’s page and there you can choose to join (button on left sidebar of page).

3. Sponsor a team – If biking isn’t quite your thing, you can still be involved by sponsoring a team. To do so, to here: www.rideforrefuge.org/partner/vohafrica and click on the team you are interested in sponsoring. Once you are directed to that team’s page, you will see a “Sponsor” button on the left sidebar of the page. You can also sponsor a specific rider by clicking HERE and entering in the first and last name of the person you would like to support.

4. Last (but not least) tell your friends! – Whether you are going to take part in The RIDE or not, don’t forget to spread the word! You never know who of your friends/family/coworkers are dying to take part in a charity bike ride! Direct them to the Ride for Refuge website (www.rideforrefuge.org) where they can search “VOH Africa” to find our page of the R4R website OR get them to contact us.

We look forward to seeing you at the finish line!


*banner image taken from Ride for Refuge website (www.rideforrefuge.org)

Director’s Blog: The Cycles of Life

This morning I was reading Ecclesiastes 3: 1-15:  “A Time for Everything; There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.  A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted and so on.

One commentator says of this passage, “Our existence in this world is a mixture of joy and sorrow, harmony and conflict, and life and death.[1]

This is so true. Life is very cyclical – we find ourselves in times of great joy, such as over the birth of a new born child, and then, with the death of a loved one, we move into a time of sorrow. We experience a time of health and then an illness can change everything. And we move from contentment to worry with the news of the down turn in the economy.

The world itself experiences times of peace and times of war. It wasn’t long ago that we saw the wall between east and west torn down, and yet that sense of peace did not last long – it all changed after 9/11.

Nature, too, reveals the cycle every year as we experience times of sowing and of harvest.

This morning while in the gym I could hear the children in the house next door. In a span of 15 minutes they went from laughing to crying, from playing to arguing, and then back to laughing again. They must have gone through this cycle three times. I could also hear their parents –correcting the children for misbehaviour, saying, “Eat your breakfast”, “stop fighting”, and so on.

Even though the children may not have been happy with their parents getting upset with them and telling them what to do, that didn’t change the fact that the parents loved and cared for the children and were only acting out of this care. It reminded me of our relationship with our heavenly Father; regardless of where we are in the cycle of life – a time of laughter or sorrow, celebrating birth or mourning over death, in a time of peace or a time of war – He loves us and is never changing.

We need to remind ourselves, as the writer of Ecclesiastes 3:14 does, that “everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him”.

Present circumstances are not to be used to determine whether the Father loves us. A great lesson learned this morning from some young children.

I recommend we all take the time every now and then from our busy schedules and observe and listen to the children around us. They have a great deal to teach us about life, God, and ourselves.

Until next time,

Sergio Bersaglio

Executive Director – Villages of Hope-Africa


[1] Garrett, D. A. (1998). The Poetic and Wisdom Books. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary: Simple, straightforward commentary on every book of the Bible (D. S. Dockery, Ed.) (246). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Director’s Blog: Our Wounds

I subscribe to the Henri Nouwen Society daily mediations, which are sent to my email inbox. This week the topic is “Our Wounds”. Nouwen begins by dealing with the misconception that time heals all wounds. If we think that over time we will forget the wounds we have experienced, especially those at the hands of others, we are only kidding ourselves. We can try to ignore what has happened to us, but we are fooling ourselves if we think this solves the problem; we need to do something about it. Just like with a physical wound, ignoring the pain will only lead to an infection. However, Nouwen defines the healing of time as: “Not passively waiting but actively working with our pain and trusting in the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Before we can try to help others with their pain we need to address our own. We only fool ourselves if we think that any of us can escape without being wounded. Nouwen claims, “Nobody escapes being wounded.  We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually.” The problem is that we are too full of pride to openly discuss our hurts, so we think that burying them is the answer. Unfortunately, when we do this, we rob others of the help we can offer them. Nouwen says, “As long as our wounds are open and bleeding, we scare others away. But after someone has carefully tended to our wounds, they no longer frighten us or others.”

As I read Henri Nouwen’s meditations these past few days, I thought of the many wounded lives that Village of Hope touches. The children we care for come from very difficult situations. The loss of parents and loved ones can leave some very deep wounds. Some if not many have been physically or emotionally abused. All have been forced to suppress the hurts. However, wounds heal much quicker if we deal with them closest to the time of the injury. The best time to heal a child’s emotional wounds is when they are still a child. So why is this so difficult to achieve? I think it’s because so many adults have wounds of their own that they have never dealt with. We all need to address our inner pain. Nouwen says, “When we experience the healing presence of another person, we can discover our own gifts of healing.” We must deal with our wounds – we owe it to the many children we care for so that we can then help them with their healing process.

The thought of helping someone who has suffered such deep wounds can be quite daunting; however, we should not fear it. Instead, we should simply listen. Nouwen says, “A wounded healer is someone who can listen to a person in pain without having to speak about his or her own wounds.” When it comes to the pain of others it should never be about us.

Hurting children, I believe, need someone who is willing to listen to their pain. To have someone hug them and value them regardless of what others have done to them. Let’s try to heal the pain before it festers into something that is carried for an entire life time, we owe it to each other.

Until next time,

Sergio Bersaglio

Executive Director – Villages of Hope-Africa