Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Selfless couple pedaling against poverty in Africa

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Pete Crean, second from right, is cycling with his wife, Sharon, from Cape Reinga to Wellington throughout November. Photo supplied

An east Auckland husband and wife team are challenging New Zealanders to join them in their month-long bike ride in a bid to raise funds for students in East Africa.

Pete and Sharon Crean were living in Australia when they were presented with the fact one billion people don’t have access to safe, clean drinking water and another two billion don’t have the use of a toilet.

“My husband (Pete) said, ‘I think we could do this,'” Sharon says. “That’s when we started BeyondWater.”

That was 15 years ago.

Now BeyondWater, a non-for-profit organisation, works across seven countries in East Africa to ensure schools, medical clinics, children’s homes and remote communities have access to safe, clean drinking water and sanitation facilities, including deep bore wells, guttering, water tanks, hand washing facilities, toilets and health education programmes.

“Only 30 per cent of schools (in East Africa) have any form of a toilet,” Sharon says. “When we started, nobody else in Australia was focusing just on water and sanitation.”

BeyondWater also has a programme called The Girl Project which aims to keep girls in schools by giving them sanitary products as well as simple items such as soap, underwear and toothpaste and a toothbrush.

Pete and Sharon currently live in Nairobi but spend several months a year in Mellons Bay and are members of the Rotary Club of Pohutukawa Coast.

When they’re in New Zealand, the duo does a free education programme for schools. “We want kids to think globally but act locally,” Sharon says.

The idea for Pedals Against Poverty began when the Creans were cycling.

The challenge is to raise money to build 10 blocks of school toilets in East Africa for students.

BeyondWater’s team of volunteers, including Pete and Sharon, will be cycling from Cape Reinga to Wellington on a 27-day journey (November 10-December 6), finishing on the steps of Parliament.

“Anybody can participate,” Sharon says. “Some people are coming for a day, some for a weekend, some a week. It’s about community involvement.”

A dinner, called ‘Under African Skies a Dessert Evening’ and organised by the Rotary Club of Pohutukawa Coast, will be held on Friday, November 18 at Uxbridge from 7pm-9pm, celebrating 15 years of BeyondWater’s achievements.

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