Former Orphans Ride Bikes Around the World to Spread a Vision
This summer, a group of former Ukrainian orphans and their parents will continue their international bike tour with the hopes of spreading the growing vision of ‘a world without orphans.
After riding across Ukraine and Russia over 4 consecutive summers, this year they will travel west to bike through central and northern Europe. They ride to be a voice for other orphans and to demonstrate how the lives of abandoned children can change when they are taken into loving families. From July 5th-September 9th, the bikers will cover a distance of 5,000 kilometers spread throughout 10 countries. Countries on their itinerary include Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Germany.
The bike campaign is organized by partners in the World Without Orphans movement and is being led by Gennadiy Mokhnenko, pastor and director of Republic Pilgrim, which is the largest rehabilitation program for street youth in Ukraine. Gennadiy and his wife Lena are parents to 32 previously abandoned children. "My adopted children used to live on the streets. Some of them were as young as 4, and we knew if we didn't take them, most would end up dead or in prison," Mokhnenko said. Gennadiy understands that his own family is not the typical example for adopting children, but he believes strongly that everyone can do something.
The World Without Orphans around-the-world bike tour seeks to advocate for orphans in need of families, encourage national adoption in the countries where they ride, and encourage the development of solutions to end orphanhood worldwide.
The World Without Orphans Bike Tour began in 2011 when a group of Ukrainian orphans from Mariupol started riding eastward to raise awareness about orphans. Their quest continued on for 4 summers, and led them to far-east Russia, covering a total of 15,000 kilometers. Tens of thousands attended gatherings that were set up as part of the tour, while hundreds of thousands heard the message about adoption through local media campaigns. As the team continued on in their ride east they regularly heard news of families who had stepped forward to foster and adopt children as a direct result of the campaign.
This year these courageous young bikers will start in Kyiv on July 5th and over two months will ride through Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn, Helsinki, Oslo, Copenhagen, and finish in Cloppenburg on September 9th. While on the tour, the group will speak at public events, hold press conferences, and meet with foster and adoptive parents throughout Europe.
This year bike tour route:
July 5th – Start at Kyiv
July 13th - Zamosc
July 23th - Alytus
July28th - Jelgava
August 2nd -Tartu
August 9th - Helsinki
August 16th - Stockholm
August 22nd - Oslo
August 23rd - Copenhagen
August 26th - Lübeck
On the arrival at the cities, the team will conduct:
- Concerts in the city square and/or churches (conduct a service)
- Sing or play musical instruments
- Perform acrobatic stunts (flips, walking on arms, freestyle football, etc.)
- Sermon/message on adoption from Gennady Mokhnenko
“This World Without Orphans bike ride is important because the main reason people don’t adopt is that they are simply unaware. Everywhere this team goes, they make people think about it [adoption]. For this we are grateful” shared Steve Weber from the WWO Steering Team.
Republic Pilgrim is the largest rehabilitation center in Ukraine for former street kids. Since 2000, over 3,000 teens have gone through the program. 60% of the youth have been able to return to their biological families and many of the kids have been placed in adoptive and foster families.
To get more information and to help contact Oleg Borovlev:
Tel: +380 67 625 79 30