Proceeds are being collected by Jessica Stotz for On the Ground International
Based on 466 miles, each worth $4.59
There is a crisis in South America. Thousands of Venezuelan citizens have been leaving their country, their histories, and their homes in desperate search for a sustainable livelihood as their country has fallen into economic failure, jobs have disappeared, and currency has become worth little more than the paper on which it is printed. Many of those fleeing Venezuela have sought refuge in the neighboring country of Colombia.
Bethani and Jessica visited Colombia for a tourist trip in 2016, and Bethani retraced steps to the capital city of Bogotá in March 2019, ultimately founding the non-profit organization On the Ground International (OTGI). Her work there has included grassroots research into a loosely knit network of shelter operations, which provide one night of simple accommodations and meals for the Venezuelan nationals - Venezolanos - passing through on foot. There are many gaps in this network, as it is largely composed of locals who were willing to quit their jobs to open their homes to hordes of strangers walking by, many without a sure idea of where they’ll find work, food, housing, and other basic necessities. Bethani, through OTGI, has found a specific gap in this string of refuges and is working to purchase a building as a new shelter, working with locals to staff the facility.
Prior to Bethani’s trip to Colombia, we planned a section hike of the Pacific Crest Trail - a National Scenic Trail in the western United States that follows the mountain ranges running more than 2,500 miles from the border of Mexico to Canada in the north. We obtained a permit allowing us to hike greater than 500 miles of the trail, beginning in northern California and trekking north toward Washington. Our goal is to hike at least the length of Oregon, from southern to northern border - approximately 460 miles, depending on the guidebook you’re referencing. Preparations are increasing in intensity for our anticipated start date of July 1.
During a recent planning session via web-call, Bethani shared the realization that many of the refugees she has met are walking to Bogotá or beyond - 435 miles from the Venezuelan border. When considering that they all had miles to travel from within Venezuela to reach the border, this close parallel with our planned hike’s 460+ miles struck a poignant chord.
Two women taking on the backcountry with backpacks and high-tech gear designed to be light and fast, complaining that a pair of good socks costs $20. Men, women, teenagers, children, infants-in-arms, with varying assortments of knapsacks and footwear, trekking miles upon miles because even the $20 bus fare is far beyond their reach.
A pleasure tromp based on thorough guidebooks detailing each stream, trail diversion, and resupply station, with network connectivity along much of the trail to keep family updated on progress. A forced march that starts each morning with next bed and meal unknown, hoping and praying the next shelter won’t be full, or that a generous trucker might allow you to climb in the cargo hold for a few miles.
A long walk, spurred on only by a desire to keep walking. A long walk, necessitated by the desire to keep living.
Here’s where you come in. If you, too, hear these stories and think, “Something must be done!”, you can support that something. I am asking for your support of On the Ground International through pledges based on our Pacific Crest Trail journey. For each mile that we cover, your pledge would promise funds for OTGI and the support of Venezuelan families. Whether $0.01 or $1.00 per mile, every cent would be dedicated to the direct operations of OTGI. If a monetary pledge is not in your budget, please consider pledging prayer for each mile. Every aching muscle, stiff joint, or foot blister will be a reminder of those making their journey without the same amenities we’ll be employing.
More information about On the Ground International, as well as ways to donate directly, can be found at the website: www.onthegroundnow.org .
|7/1||WEEK 1: Pacific Crest Trail - Oregon||71.70||$329|
|7/8||WEEK 2: Pacific Crest Trail - Oregon||91.70||$421|
|7/15||WEEK 3: Pacific Crest Trail - Oregon||89||$409|
|7/22||WEEK 4: Pacific Crest Trail - Oregon||56.70||$260|
|7/29||WEEK 5: Pacific Crest Trail - Oregon||104.60||$480|
|8/5||WEEK 6: Pacific Crest Trail - Oregon||52.10||$239|
This campaign benefits
On the Ground International is supporting Venezuelan refugees in Colombia.