By Jennifer Johnson
A British man living in Dubai rode his bike across the Alps this summer to raise funds for a Missions of Hope International school, part of Christian Missionary Fellowship’s ministry in the Mathare slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Tim Hooker, his American wife, Fiona Petrocelli, and their son, Quinlan, became acquainted with the work of MOHI when they were planning a luxurious safari holiday in the Masaai Mara in 2011. Fiona wanted to add a different perspective to the trip by spending a day doing some type of service for local people. “Some friends of ours put us in touch with Mary and Wallace Kamau at MOHI,” Fiona said. “I didn’t want to arrive empty-handed, so Quinlan and I collected 100 pairs of used Crocs from his friends and teachers, and passed them out at the Baba Ndogo School.
“The school was very tiny then, 200 children squeezed into a makeshift building made of corrugated tin,” she says. “It was heartbreaking to see the condition of most of the children’s shoes, but such a joy to see the smiles on their faces as they walked away with their new, used Crocs. But then we ran out of shoes, and the only response we could make was to say we would come back next year with more!”
Upon their return to Dubai, Fiona sent photos of their day at Baba Ndogo to Crocs UAE. Moved by the photos, the company donated 800 pairs for Fiona and Quinlan to take back to Nairobi, which they did in April 2012. These visits became the subject of a photography exhibition staged by Fiona in Dubai in January 2013 to raise awareness of life in the Mathare slums.
Hooker, an avid cyclist who completes challenging rides with a group of friends every other year, decided to add a fund-raising challenge for MOHI to this year’s ride.
“The group, which called itself the ‘Jebel Raiders,’ decided to take on the Raid Alps (the name of the ride course), and added a day to tackle the Alpe d’Huez, a famous climb often featured in the Tour de France,” Fiona said.
The ride is 835 kilometers from Lake Geneva to Antibes on the Mediterranean coast, and includes 19,000 meters of ascent. The group flew out of Dubai on May 29 for the seven-day ride.
“Two members of the group and their families had heard about our experiences in Mathare and were keen to raise money for the kids of Baba Ndogo School,” Fiona said. “At some point they, too, want their children to have the experiences that Quinlan has had of seeing how many people in this world live and providing a balance to what is a very privileged upbringing here in Dubai.”
The cyclists set a goal of raising $5,000 to sponsor two children through their entire elementary years at Baba Ndogo School, and reached that milestone by May 19. Contributions continued to pour in, and at press time the total stood at more than $10,000! Learn more and make a donation at http://bit.ly/1pLLXtv.