Photo Provided
Judi Orme and Barbara Wooler are shown dipping their bicycle’s back wheels in the Pacific Ocean July 20, the first day of their ride across the country. They hope to dip their front wheels in the Atlantic on Aug. 29, the last day of their ride.
Photo Provided Judi Orme and Barbara Wooler are shown dipping their bicycle’s back wheels in the Pacific Ocean July 20, the first day of their ride across the country. They hope to dip their front wheels in the Atlantic on Aug. 29, the last day of their ride.
WINONA LAKE – A Winona Lake woman is riding a bicycle across the country to help raise money for elementary schools in Africa.

Barbara Wooler began the trip, called Coast To Coast For Hand In Hand, July 20 in Anacortes, Wash., with friend Judi Orme, Telford, Pa. They will end their ride in Bellmore, N.J., on Aug. 29.

One of the pair rides for 10 to 15 miles and the other drives a van during their course, then they switch.

The purpose of the ride is to awareness for the plight of orphan kids in the Central African Republic. Hand in Hand Schools is giving thousands of orphans hope and a future, as well as support for the schools for the 2020-2021 school year, Wooler said. There are about 40 schools in Central African Republic. The schools help orphans in their village by offering a three-year school program where students “learn the three Rs.”

The schools take a maximum amount of 50 students and expects some students to drop out of the program each year, Wooler said. Costs are $4,000 per school, per year.

During the ride, Wooler also hopes to raise some money for the schools.

However, Wooler doesn’t have a goal of how much the pair wants to raise for the schools.

“We’re not putting a figure on it,” Wooler said. Churches involved in the Hand in Hand schools will be donating.

The donation website is give.encompassworldpartners.org/project/hnh.

Wooler said public schools have to be paid for in this country and some families may not be willing to invest in the education of an orphan in their care if they have other biological children they have to take care of. The hope is that once the orphans are done with the Hand in Hand schools, they’d continue with the public schools in the area. If the orphans show promise, the families are usually more willing to invest in their education.

Students from the Hand in Hand schools usually skip one or two grades once they go into public education.

The money to be raised will come from churches involved with Hand in Hand schools, Wooler said.

Wooler said once the pair get to Winona Lake, they hope to start Hand in Hand parties. Once leaving Winona Lake, they will be passing through eight regions with churches that are involved with the Hand in Hand schools, where they will be holding parties. The parties may be done physically or virtually.

Miriam Pacheco, Winona Lake’s Hand in Hand party organizer, said the party for Wooler’s and Orme’s ride is at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 18 at the lawn at the hub at Winona Lake Grace Bretheren Church. It is still being planned to be in-person.

The party is supposed to welcome Wooler and Orme to the area, Pacheco said. “We’re calling it a celebration for them.”

People attending are asked to bring chairs and wearing masks is encouraged. The two will give some information about their trip, as well as Hand in Hand schools, Pacheco said. The party is just for information for anyone who is interested in orphan schools in Africa or know about the program and want to know more or just want to see Wooler and Orme.

Wooler and Orme also have a ride journal they post to with updates on their ride, which features one of the Hand in Hand schools each day. To read the ride journal, go to encompasscrisisresponse.org/ride-journal/.