By Fran Hunt
Special from ECB Publishing
A California man recently peddled his way through Madison on his bicycle on a very unique and selfless mission, to raise funds to provide an under-developed area in Kenya with not only fresh drinking water, but also providing them with the know-how on how to obtain it. That man is Steve Rife, 31, a member of the Covenant United Methodist Church in San Diego, CA.
Rife departed Mission Beach, San Diego, CA January 2 and peddled for 2,800 miles before reaching Madison in late February. During his travels, he made 36 stops with host families set up by the church. Those families would provide him with a shower, dinner, and a place to sleep.
While he was at the host’s home, he would often speak to different community groups, charity organizations, media, schools, etc. about the mission he was on. During his venture he also worked on raising funds for the mission.
“The purpose is raising funds and awareness about the mission program in Gaitu, Kenya, Africa, for drilling wells, building pumping systems, teaching the people about water filtration systems and providing them with a medical clinic,” said Rife.
“Many developing countries are full of citizens whose basic needs for life are unmet. Clean water is a resource that many people do not see as a luxury. However, there are so many men, women and children who suffer from the illnesses that are contracted through unclean and unsafe drinking water,” he added.
“The Mwangaza Mission started as a vision of Rev. Dr. Joyce Nki (FSU Doctorate in Philosophy and Religious Studies) and former resident of Gaitu, Kenya. It has become the mission at Covenant UMC, alongside Dr. Nki, to host a project to drill a well and provide clean water and a medical clinic for a community in Gaitu, Kenya.
In a 2008 exploratory mission trip to Gaitu, the government granted land for the building of a medical clinic. We believe, that with your help, we can provide life through clean water and a medical clinic to these citizens who currently have to walk miles to a creek to get dirty water and medical treatment,” said Rife.
In order to raise funds for the water project Rife was inspired to ride a bike across the US to raise awareness and funding for this project. He is committed to the goal of raising $75,000 for the project. By the time he reached Madison, he had raised $44,000.
After spending the night in Madison with a host family, Jay and Donna Fraleigh, he continued on his route to Gainesville, Ocala, and ended the original trip on February 27 in Daytona Beach. He had peddled for 56 days and a total of 3,100 miles. During that time, Rife had raised $56,720.60 for the mission.
While in the area, since he had not yet reached his goal, he decided to extend his trip and veer up the east coast from Daytona to Augusta, Maine. “When I set out with a goal I’m not one to stop until I reach it,” said Rife.
“That trip will take me about one month and hopefully the extra month will give people the initiative to donate and help me reach my goal,” he concluded.
To donate go to jesusatcovenant.org or howfarforwater.org.