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Riding for a cause

Mark Jacobs biked from Florida to Maine this summer to raise money to support African rape victims.

by Rose Patrick ’14. Contributing Writer

Furman student and rugby player Mark Jacobs wrapped up his junior year with a fitting summer activity given that the year was deemed “The Year of Global Citizenship.”

He spent six weeks biking – from Daytona Beach, Florida, to Portland, Maine – seven to eight hours each day.  Staying in people’s homes, camping out, and sleeping on church floors along the way, Jacobs and six other bikers raised money to support rape victims in Africa.

The program, “She’s My Sister” was sponsored by the American Bible Society.  The program provides aide to African women who undergo extreme sexual abuse in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the American Journal of Public Health, approximately 48 women are raped every hour as a result of local and national conflicts.  In Congo and other parts of Africa, rape is used as a weapon of war.

In addition to Jacobs, students from Franklin and Marshall, Pennsylvania State, Appalachian State, Colorado State, Birmingham Southern and Messiah College participated.

Each night the bikers gave presentations, typically to church groups, describing the corruption taking place in the Congo and requesting support and donations. A $10 donation provides one woman with the opportunity to take part in a year-long trauma healing program.

The program uses Biblical scripture and messages to counsel female rape victims who are often viewed as “damaged goods”  and subsequently abandoned by their husbands.

More than 8,000 Congolese women are supported through programs created by She’s My Sister. Jacobs (captain of the men’s rugby team) and his fellow bikers raised enough funds to open up several new trauma healing centers and, according to Jacobs, simply “getting Americans to think beyond themselves.”

“I heard about it through a family friend, and I thought it would be a great adventure,” says Jacobs. “Then, when I learned more about the program, I knew I had to do it. We met some  interesting people along the way. We got to speak to a Congolese church in Maine, and they were very, very thankful and pretty emotional. It was powerful.”

More information about the journey is posted on the American Bible Society webpage.

Last updated February 17, 2016
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