• Skate to the Finish - An Unexpected Journey

    Posted by Micah Challenge

    7 August, 2013

    Riding a BMX between the two major cities of the Flynn electorate - Emerald and Gladstone - may not be the most efficient way to cover 475km, but Michael Trafford has proved it to be very effective in other ways. Here he shares the inspiring journey that Finish the Race has taken him on.

    The journey was a great way to highlight how inadequate Australia’s current foreign aid giving is if we really are committed to the task of Halving Poverty by 2015. It opened the door to many opportunities and over the past three weeks I have had the incredible privilege of speaking to over 2000 school students in 30 schools throughout Central Queensland, as well as 1000 or so more in local churches along the way.

    During the three-week campaign our audiences varied greatly from speaking to nearly 1000 students one day, to 6 primary school students (who incidentally were the entire school population) the next. I was impressed and encouraged by the many teachers who contacted us after the talks to ask for more information or to let us know that their class had written a letter to our Federal Member, Mr. Ken O’Dowd.  

    It’s an incredibly cool privilege to be able to talk to children and teenagers about the power they have to save lives by using their voice. There is something surprisingly refreshing as their passion refuels your passion, motivating you to keep going. Leading up to the three-week campaign I had countless meetings with politicians and others in our community who were quick to stress to me how complicated the issue of foreign aid is and to be honest, I began to agree with them. However, after spending three weeks on the road with the youth of our electorate the lasting lesson I have learnt is that it’s not complicated. I visited schools to educate the youth on issues unfamiliar to them and in the process they reminded me how simple the whole issue really is. If Australia made a promise we should keep it. If people are dying we should do something about it. If children don’t have access to schools, then Australia should play its part so that every child has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. 

    As I spent hours pedalling an absurd vehicle over unfriendly terrain I began to wonder at what age does life get so complicated? At what point do we move from the simplicity of childhood thought, the simple belief that we should treat others the way we wish to be treated and complicate that with people pleasing, balancing budgets and politics? In processing these thoughts I began to realise the irony of my trip. I got on a bike thinking that with determination and preparation I might inspire the students I talked to, how naïve I was. Rather it was the students I talked to that inspired me. We can all learn from the simplicity with which children view the world and I am now more determined than before to help our political leaders adopt that same approach.

    The approach of simplicity that teaches us that if someone is hurting, we should help them; if we have food and someone else is hungry, we should share; if we have two coats and someone else has none, then we should give them one.

    My prayer is no longer that I would be able to convince the politicians and community members that I talk to to see my way, but rather that they would see them with childlike simplicity. Then, with hearts filled with compassion, they will spare no effort to do all that they can to play their part in halving, or indeed eradicating, extreme poverty.

    Maybe these are just the ramblings of someone that has spent too many hours riding a BMX and talking to kids, but right now I am rejoicing in the simplicity. 

    To find out more about Michael Trafford's journey, check out the Skate to the Finish facebook page.