HUNTINGTON, IN—The villagers of Marale walk miles to reach the nearest water supply, forcing the community into a cycle of dehydration and disease. But three young men will ride nearly 3,000 miles across the United States this summer in an effort to change those circumstances.
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Huntington University alumnus Matt Friedlund, along with his younger brother, Andy, and friend, Morgan Jones, both students at Albright College in Reading, Pa., plan to ride their bicycles cross-country in an effort to raise $5,300 to build a well for Marale, a small village in the African country of Uganda with a population of 2,000 people.
The idea originally came from Andy who approached Food for the Hungry, an international relief organization, looking for any kind of effort to help those in need. His older brother, Matt, then soon joined the cause followed by Morgan.
“I was all about it,” said Matt, a journalism and English major at the University, who is helping to organize the trip by promoting their ride in each town. “I think it’s a great idea.”
The three will leave on their trip from Boyertown, Pa., near Philadelphia, on May 30, traveling west through various towns and cities, including a stop back through Huntington in June, until they reach Seattle on Aug. 15. They are raising donations for their trip through www.fh.org/ridemarale, and plan to participate in various speaking engagements at churches and other events along the way.
The issue in Marale is that each day the women of the village must spend several hours fetching water from a distant source that is not clean and often nearly empty. The water supply is estimated to only provide one-fourth of the necessary water for the village.
The money raised through the ride will provide the villagers with the knowledge to build a well and maintain it.
“It’s more like a relationship,” Matt said about Food for the Hungry’s involvement.
This is the first time that Matt has attempted any kind of long-distance ride, but even with no cycling experience to speak of, he has little fear about the 40 to sometimes 112-mile stretches on their trip.
“It should be a good time,” Matt said, explaining he has kept in shape through mixed martial arts training and cheerleading.
For Matt, the ride has become as much about creating awareness about the needs in Marale as it has been a character-building exercise for himself.
“I think this will give us a good look at people across the United States,” he said, adding those experiences will complement his studies of morality in graduate school.
They also plan to blog about their experiences at www.ridemarale.blogspot.com under either the theme “The Ride for the Way Things Are” or just simply “Morality.”
“That ties very closely to the spiritual emphasis – finding out how best to communicate a message to a large audience,” Matt said.
This will not be the last adventure for the Friedlund brothers. Matt said they plan to take some sort of trip each summer until they both graduate college and grad school.
The destination next summer? An Alaskan survivor camp. From there, the sky’s the limit.