Ben Houston Ride for Freedom: Day 1

Oct 7 2013

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Distance: 97 kms
Average speed: 32.4km/h
Average H/R: 134 bpm
Ascent: 416 m
Calories: 1608

Well we have just completed the first day of our A21 Freedom Challenge. I am sitting in our hotel in Pirot in Serbia, a small town close to the border.

The day’s ride was 89 kms, plus about 8kms around Sofia going to a couple of different locations for media & awareness events. It was a relatively easy ride today and quite flat. The weather was beautiful with wide-open fields, mountains, and plenty of Autumn colours.

It was quite incredible to see how many people showed up at the starting line & so much media were there to cover it. Around 50 other riders joined us and rode for the first part; some even rode all the way to the border with us.

We had a great couple of days in Bulgaria. It is an amazing country with beautiful people. Nick & Vicky Rough and the whole A21 team are doing a great job here! We went to schools and talked with media about what we are doing and why.

It is a mind-blowing figure that every year they estimate around 10,000 women are trafficked out of Bulgaria. It is so hard for me to even get my head around this!

I had the opportunity to go to our A21 transition house in Sofia and meet three of the girls who have been rescued out of slavery. They were warm and friendly, but it was also obvious that they were reserved and cautious around me. I heard a bit of their stories. It makes all this SO much more real when you actually get to see and meet one of these girls.

I think what impacted me the most was visiting a “Mehala”, literally a gypsy ghetto town built on a garbage dump. The team was doing schoolwork with some of the kids there. These people are so marginalised, picked on, and excluded in so many different ways.

It is the abject poverty that you see here that can lead to such vulnerability, as any option appears to be better than the life they are living – it becomes clear why so many Gypsy’s end up being exploited. Some are taken or tricked with a false job offer, but others are even sold by their own families.

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Only a short time ago, one of the A21 team were in a “Mehala” and commented how cute this baby was and asked to take this photo. The family then tried to sell this beautiful little child for only 50 Euro ($68). I believe this is the complete antithesis of the love, care and value that God has for this child.

When I read scripture like MATTHEW 10 I see how much God is completely & utterly infatuated with His children. He knows us so well, He has numbered the hair on our heads, the love He has, how much He cares and values us.

It is not right that this injustice would exist; and we are doing what we can to raise awareness to what is happening in our world today, and raising funds for The A21 Campaign to continue to fight this evil.

Much Love


For more information and to support Ben on the A21 Freedom Challenge, please visit