MEANINGFUL JOURNEY – Tana Silverland poses on her recumbent tricycle which she is riding across the country in hopes of raising awareness for SOS Children’s Villages

Cyclist travels in anything but a straight line

Tana Silverland, a recent immigrant to Canada from the United Kingdom (UK), will be asking Red Deerians today what they love about their home as a part of her trek across Canada.

Silverland is travelling across Canada on her recumbent tricycle, Ranger, to spread the word about SOS Children’s Villages, an international charity.

“I’m hoping that by encouraging people to think about what it is they love about the place they call home, that it will encourage them to think about what it must be like to not have that,” said Silverland.

SOS Children’s Villages provides orphaned or abandoned children with a home and an SOS mother. They work in more than 130 countries worldwide and are currently raising some 78,000 children.

“I left where I was living in the UK in order to immigrate over here to Canada but have been on this journey literally since the day I landed.”

Silverland has no history of long distance cycling and had no latent interest in it growing up.

“I was getting a trike because I wanted an environmentally friendly way of getting around, but because the trike is so unusual it was generating a lot of attention.”

Silverland says people approached her at home to talk about Ranger, which gave her the idea that she could be spreading information about SOS Children’s Villages by taking advantage of people’s natural curiosity.

“It just kind of grew inexorably from that. It was basically driven by my passion for the charity.”

Silverland started out by determining how far she could travel in a day and began connecting cities and towns separated only by that amount.

“Before I knew it I had kind of joined the dots all the way across the map.”

Silverland’s original involvement with SOS Children’s Villages was as a volunteer at their base that happened to be around the corner from her workplace in Cambridge, England.

“Through volunteering I got to know more about the organization and the staff and the dedication that they have to the children that the charity cares for and I became more and more inspired by their approach.”

SOS Children’s Villages is the largest orphan charity in the world but because they spend so much of their money on the children, and not on advertising, many people have not heard about them.

Silverland’s journey was intentionally planned to not be a direct “fast” route. In fact, she doesn’t even know the full length of her journey.

“That is quite deliberate because I expect it would be rather frightening if I knew how far I would be going.”

Silverland’s trek is not a fundraising journey, she says. It is strictly an awareness-raising journey meant to inform people of the charity.

“I could have loads of people throw five dollars at me and 24 hours later they wouldn’t even remember which charity they had donated to.”

She wants to inspire people to be long-term supporters of SOS Children’s Villages.

“The longer it takes me to get to Newfoundland the more successful I’ve been because the point is to get to as many communities as I can.”

For more information on the journey visit www.tanasilverland.wordpress.com.

For more information about SOS Children’s Villages visit www.soschildrensvillages.ca.

kpalardy@reddeerexpress.com

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