100 Bikes for 100 Girls

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Rarejaunt.com had the opportunity to catch up with Sara Stevens Nerone of 100 Bikes for 100 Girls, a non-profit currently operating out of Vietnam; read about her fascinating charity and travels below and be sure to have a look at the links provided below!

 

Website:www.rockpaperscissorschildrensfund.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RockPaperScissorsChildrensFund

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rockpaperscissorschildrensfund

 

RJ: Please tell us a bit about yourself and your travels thus far:

In 1999 and 2001, my late husband and I adopted our two daughters from Vietnam. During our visits to adopt our daughters we fell in love with Vietnam, staying in Hanoi for more than three months each visit. Back then it was quite different, there were very few tourists at that time, and the streets were filled with street kids pedaling post cards and other small trinkets. My husband and I always dreamed of bringing the girls back to Vietnam for them to experience their birth culture when they got a bit older, but in 2004 my husband became ill at a young age and he passed away in 2010.

Two years later I decided to fulfill our dream, and my daughters, a friend, and I, moved to Vietnam for seven months. While living in Vietnam, my daughters would practice their violin and cello at our house in Khanh Hoa, and during that time, a young local man asked to take violin lessons from my daughter, Sophie. She taught him every week while were there, and before we left he had recruited more students to learn. When we returned to the U.S. I continued to support the small group of kids and at that time decided to register as an official non-profit to provide after school art and music classes for more kids, and a bicycle giving program to support girl’s education. We named our organization Rock-Paper-Scissors Children’s Fund after the universal game that’s also played by kids Vietnam.

 

 

RJ: What can you tell us about your charity, 100 bike?

Since 2013 we have been raising money to support around 100 children in our year-round after school arts programs in both the province of Khanh Hoa and Thua Thien Hue, as well as for our Bikes for Girls program. Our bikes for girls program has become an important program in the areas where we work. We have given over 1500 girls new bicycles and helmets to promote their safe transportation to and from school and to encourage them to remain in school.

We feel that all girls need encouragement to stay in school and become educated. There is much literature about the difference an education can make for a girl by helping her to move out of poverty, be less likely to have children at a very young age, and less likely to suffer from domestic violence. Although a bicycle isn’t a huge gift towards her education, we think that by bringing the girls together, and letting them know that we are giving them this bicycle for them to ride to school on, and that we hope and encourage them to stay in school and study, is a small thing that we can do. We are proud to be working in a country like Vietnam that continues to make strides towards enrolling girls in school.

 

 

What do you see as the future for your charity?

Currently I work for the National Park Service in the United States as an ecologist, so Rock-Paper-Scissors is simply a volunteer “hobby” for me right now, but I plan on retiring in a few years and hope to be able to move at least part time to Vietnam to extend our programs there and perhaps extend our Bikes for Girls program into other Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia. We have only been operating fully for about five years, but are starting to be better known with more followers and donors, which have helped us tremendously. I hope that this momentum continues to grow.

 

How has this experience changed you, and what have you learned from it?

Pursuing running a non-profit, especially in a foreign country has come with a steep learning curve for me. I was very naïve at the beginning really driven only by my empathy and compassion for kids who live in poverty, and the pure desire to do good in the world, especially the country where my daughters are from. But I was naïve in not really knowing the tremendous amount of work and daily commitment it takes to run a non-profit. There is never really down time, fundraising has to happen continually, year-round, as well as all of the other tasks associated with running an organization and making it work.

 

What wisdom would you impart to anyone attempting to achieve what you have?

For those interested in starting a charity, from my own experience I would take a lot of time either first working for an existing non-profit, or spend time speaking to non-profit leaders and founders about what it entails. There are important ways that you can be part of an existing organization.

Given unlimited resources, what do you believe are the top three challenges globally which, if fixed, could cause a paradigm shift in a positive direction?

Where is next on your list of places to go for personal enjoyment, and why?

Throughout my life I have traveled and lived in various places around the world. I did my graduate work living in the Atlantic Rainforest of Northeastern Brazil, I’ve traveled around Europe, and now Asia. I love Vietnam though, and now have so many wonderful friends there. My family and I have traveled all over Vietnam and love just about every place we have been in the country, but my passion is to be in those places in Vietnam not opened to tourists, off the beaten path where girl’s receive our bicycles, and kids in poor villages paint and learn music passionately. For me, staying in one place and getting to know people, have time to spend in the country during their holidays, actually being able to live right in a local community rather than a hotel, is the best kind of travel one could do.

What valuable lessons have you learned “on the road”?

In 1999 and 2001, my late husband and I adopted our two daughters from Vietnam. During our visits to adopt our daughters we fell in love with Vietnam, staying in Hanoi for more than three months each visit. Back then it was quite different, there were very few tourists at that time, and the streets were filled with street kids pedaling post cards and other small trinkets. My husband and I always dreamed of bringing the girls back to Vietnam for them to experience their birth culture when they got a bit older, but in 2004 my husband became ill at a young age and he passed away in 2010.

Two years later I decided to fulfill the dream we had together, and my daughters, a friend, and I, moved to Vietnam for eight months. At that time we were volunteering for another non-profit and living in a small town near the coast. While living in there, my daughters who we were homeschooling, would practice their violin and cello, and during that time, a young local man asked to take violin lessons from my daughter, Sophie. She taught him every week while were there, and before we left he had recruited more students to learn. When we returned to the U.S. I continued to support the small group of kids and at that time decided to register as an official non-profit of our own to provide after school art and music classes for more kids living in poverty, and to develop a bicycle giving program to support girl’s education in rural areas. We named our organization Rock-Paper-Scissors Children’s Fund after the universal game that’s also played by kids even in Vietnam.

Since 2013 we have been raising money to support around 100 children in our year-round after school arts programs in both the province of Khanh Hoa and Thua Thien Hue, as well as for our Bikes for Girls program. Our bikes for girls program has become an important program in the areas where we work. We have given over 1500 girls new bicycles and helmets to promote their safe transportation to and from school and to encourage them to remain in school.

We feel that all girls need encouragement to stay in school and become educated. There is much literature about the difference an education can make for a girl by helping her to move out of poverty, be less likely to have children at a very young age, and less likely to suffer from domestic violence. Although a bicycle isn’t a huge gift towards her education, we think that by bringing the girls together, and letting them know that we are giving them this bicycle for them to ride to school on, and that we hope and encourage them to stay in school and study, is a small thing that we can do. We are proud to be working in a country like Vietnam that continues to make strides towards enrolling girls in school.

Currently I work for the National Park Service in the United States as an ecologist, so Rock-Paper-Scissors is simply a “volunteer hobby” for me right now, but I plan on retiring in a few years and hope to be able to move at least part time to Vietnam to extend our programs there and perhaps extend our Bikes for Girls program into other Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia. We have only been operating fully for about five years, but are starting to be better known with more followers and donors, which have helped us tremendously. I hope that this momentum continues to grow.

Pursuing running a non-profit, especially in a foreign country has come with a steep learning curve for me. I was very naïve at the beginning really driven only by my empathy and compassion for kids who live in poverty, and the pure desire to do good in the world, especially the country where my daughters are from. But I was naïve in not really knowing the tremendous amount of work and daily commitment it takes to run a non-profit. There is never really down time, fundraising has to happen continually, year-round, as well as all of the other tasks associated with running an organization and making it work. For those interested in starting a charity, from my own experience I would take a lot of time either first working for an existing non-profit, or spend time speaking to non-profit leaders and founders about what it entails. There are important ways that you can be part of an existing organization and still make an incredibly difference in the world.

Throughout my life I have traveled and lived in various places around the world. I did my graduate work living in the Atlantic Rainforest of Northeastern Brazil, I’ve traveled around Europe, and now Asia. I love Vietnam though, and now have so many wonderful friends there. My family and I have traveled all over Vietnam and love just about every place we have been in the country, but my passion is to be in those places in Vietnam not opened to tourists, off the beaten path where girl’s receive our bicycles, and kids in poor villages paint and learn music passionately with us! To me, staying in one place and getting to know people, having time to spend in a country during traditional holidays, actually being able to live right in a local community rather than a hotel, is the best kind of travel one could do.

U.S 501.c.3 Organization supporting children in Vietnam

Website:www.rockpaperscissorschildrensfund.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RockPaperScissorsChildrensFund

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rockpaperscissorschildrensfund