It’s a while since our last sponsored bicycle ride, so you may be glad to know another is now in the offing on an unusual theme. It is planned for 21 – 24 May 2020, travelling between Ford End near Chelmsford and Tunbridge Wells, aiming to raise money for the Tariro charity. (Tariro UK raises money to support orphans or young people whose one parent can’t look after them any more. It funds between 45 and 50 such young people in four centres in Zimbabwe, through models which suit the individuals; supporting them through school and then with further education or practical projects until they are able to stand on their own two feet.) More on the fantastic work of Tariro in a minute. Before that, you will be wanting to know the reasons for the route. The ride is in memory of Arthur Shearley Cripps (1869 – 1952). He was born in Tunbridge Wells, was influenced by Charles Gore, became vicar of Ford End, and then a missionary, stirrer for social justice and poet in what is now Zimbabwe. You can find out more about him on: http://www.christiancourier.ca/columns-op-ed/entry/arthur-cripps-maverick-missionary-and-activist-for-african-rights. His grave in Zimbabwe is regarded as a shrine, and miracles have been attributed to this very unlikely character.
Our route starts at Ford End on the morning of Ascension Day, and takes us down to the Gravesend ferry. Having crossed the Thames estuary, we make for Lullingstone and the remains of a famous Roman Villa which includes one of the oldest places of Christian worship in Britain: the foundations of a chapel whose Roman frescoes and mosaics are now on display in the British Museum. On the site of this chapel we hope to sing the midday office. We then make for West Malling Abbey, expectant of another office and a cup of tea, before finally heading to Tunbridge Wells, to take part in the Sunday Mass at St Barnabas’, where Cripps grew up in the faith. This 90-mile journey will be spread over 3 days, and we have yet to arrange the intermediate overnight stays. I say ‘we’, but at the moment only myself is signed up. If you would like to join the ride for a part of it, or even the whole, please let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth Wilson (chair of Tariro trustees) recently visited Zimbabwe and writes: When I visited in September I was really impressed with the work being carried out by the stellar people in the organizations we support. The young people at the Tariro for Young People project in Harare are really wonderful and it is clear that they are being provided with more than just a roof over their heads and food. Tariro House is home to a real family, the members provide support to each other, and those who have left come back to support and encourage the new members. As Kundai (a Tariro House young resident now studying medicine) told me, Tariro House “transforms young lives”, and I saw for myself how young people looking frightened and hunted in old photographs were now full of life and confidence and warmth. What was so lovely was to see how each individual was being enabled to meet their potential: from conducting the amazing singing at the Tariro commemoration day service to studying at university or raising pigs (and the odd lemon tree!) at the Tariro smallholding I visited at Goromonzi outside Harare, built with funds from the Cowley Fathers.
In the rural areas I was impressed by the work of Mr Stan Runyowa (retired head teacher of St Anne’s Anglican school) and his board (including Mirfield trained priest and Dean of Mutare Cathedral, Fr Luke Chigwanda) in setting up and running the Tariro project, meeting the needs of 33 children and young people in rural eastern Zimbabwe (around the area of the old CR mission at Penhalonga). It was so impressive to see how each young person’s needs are considered individually with each one having an individual plan and being kept under constant review. Wonderful too to see Edwin Komayi (a former Tariro House Harare young resident) working so hard for their benefit, our support enabling him to travel huge distances to see them. When I met some of the young people supported by TFYP it was clear they felt part of a wider Tariro family. They were proud to be supported by Tariro and at a recent meeting of all the young people even came up with their own ideas about the standard to be expected of them! Mr Runyowa hopes one day to be able to buy a plot of land near Rusape to give the TFYP young people a place to grow some extra food, but more importantly to spend time together on a common project. I saw the land. Like so many places in Zimbabwe it is beautiful and full of potential. I so hope we can raise the money to make the dream a reality.
So – something worth cycling for!
Fr George CR
To sponsor Fr George please visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Unexpected-holy-places