Thirteen (13) team members at Catalyst Care Group virtually cycled 603 miles, over 4 hours at Bodyworld Gym in Plymouth last Saturday, to raise money for Catalyst Foundation’s S.H.E (Secure, Hope, Empowered) Programme, a charity founded to empower vulnerable girls in Sub-Saharan Africa, through education. The distance cycled is equivalent to the collective distance that all sixty-two beneficiaries being supported must walk daily, to receive an education.
Across Africa, 32.6 million girls of primary and lower secondary school age are out of school. This number rises to 52 million when looking at girls of upper secondary school age. As a result of not going to school, girls may become victims of child abuse, child rape, early child marriages/pregnancies, HIV/AIDS, and more.
As an organisation, the Catalyst Foundation recognises that for a young girl to fully benefit from education, it’s necessary to offer tailored support to empower the “whole” child, and so the foundation decided to implement seven pillars of support to achieve this. Their three core pillars of direct beneficiary support include instilling security, promoting education, and providing healthcare services. In addition to these, their other four pillars of additional school and community support, include educating all students about climate change, establishing school feeding programmes for all students, setting up family resilience projects to help bring themselves out of poverty, and giving infrastructural and resource assistance to ensure that all students study in a dynamic environment, fit for learning. The daily ‘School Feeding Programmes’ established in schools by the Catalyst Foundation has made a big impact, as all students are now able to receive a healthy, balanced, meal every day at school. Through the implementation of this initiative, school dropout rates have fallen by nearly 75%. Many students previously suffering from malnutrition, are now on the road to better health, and because of this support – academic performance from all students has improved significantly, which has been amazing to witness.
Participant Ellie Baxter, from the Exeter office at Catalyst Care Group, which employs 50 people locally, said prior to the event, “We are such a strong team in Devon and regularly spend time outside of work together with each other and our families. Our families all know each other too. We all champion each other and really want every single one of us to succeed. One of the challenges we will face on the day is exhaustion, and body tiredness, however the bond we all have as a team, and the way we can make each other laugh, and encourage each other will pull us through when we are struggling. Our body always gives up before our mind – we are very good at keeping each other on track. We are there to cheer each other on. We have other members of Catalyst Care Group coming down to cheer us on too, along with family members and clinicians. We also all have in the fore front of our minds, that this is a one off for all of us. The girls we are aiming to fundraise for must travel long distances every day to access education.”
Ellie added, “I’m taking part in the ‘Cycle for Girls’ Fundraiser in support of Catalyst Foundation’s S.H.E Programme, to raise awareness that a free education isn’t given all over the world. Our children are very lucky to be able to access free education and healthcare. I want to raise as much money as we can so we can increase our group of girls in Zimbabwe and Zambia and sponsor many more. Every child deserves the right to learn, read and write and have a safe space to express themselves and develop. Even though the miles we need to cycle are going to be tough, I couldn’t think of a better group of people to do it alongside. We have had so much support from our own family and friends alongside our work family. Laughter and love will get us through the bike ride with the knowledge that we are making an impact and changing lives.”
Another team member, Vicky Norey enthusiastically said, “I’m taking part, because I think everyone should have the right to an education. So many of us take this for granted and I want to be a part of something that will make a difference. I also feel the challenges we will face are exhaustion, and body tiredness, but I know as a strong team we will pull each other through to reach our total
Mandy Colebrook-Clark said, “The reason I am taking part in the cycle is to support young girls to get an education, as we take this for granted. I am very honoured to do this with an amazing team around me and I am excited to get going!”
Following the event, Gemma Clark, General Manager, praised the success of the team, “I can confirm that the cycle was completed and in 4 hours! The team had a great approach to keep the bikes moving on a tag team basis. Looking back, all I can say was that my knees hurt, but it was so very much worth it. Everyone in the room brought their A-game positive attitude, and we cycled, danced, and cheered the miles down.”
The founders of Catalyst Care Group have always been passionate about empowering the girl-child within Sub-Saharan Africa. They both decided to research about the issues that the girl-child faces. After analysing these statistics, they concluded that there was a dire need for their support. The statistics were frightening, and they were determined that through the birth of and successful implementation of Catalyst Foundation’s first programme, they would be able to provide support to deal with all these girl-child related issues, by empowering one girl at a time. The Catalyst Foundation sits firmly under the Catalyst Care Group umbrella.
Congratulations to Catalyst Care Group for acting on behalf of those facing hunger and exploitation, with limited access to the privilege of a free education we have in the west. This cycle event seemed like hard work, but when young, vulnerable girls, in Africa are travelling these long distances regularly to school, it puts into perspective how lucky we really are in the U.K, to have all the support we do and improve less fortunate countries than our own.
To find out more information about this amazing cause, visit Catalyst Foundation’s website – www.catalystfn.org.
Upon visiting the site, numerous features can be found, navigating you to dive deeper into what motivates Catalyst Foundation to do the work that they do. You will have the opportunity to meet their passionate team of impact players, be able to connect with their beneficiaries, witnessing their global impact being made in their girls’ lives, through their inspiring stories, and explore exciting ways to create your impact through various fundraising activities. Our hope is that through these stories and the website, you will feel inspired to get involved with Catalyst Foundation and help them to be the ‘catalyst that transforms the vulnerable to empowered.