Darren Hall and his new wife Charley have decided on a honeymoon with a difference. Starting this Saturday, 18th June, they will be taking on a cycle challenge from Lands End to John O'Groats and raising money for Deki along the way! We spoke to Darren to find out who came up with the idea, how he and Charley are preparing for the cycle and why he thinks supporting Deki and making a positive impact is so important.
How did you first become involved with Deki?
I was talking to friends about the film “Black Gold” and one of them told me about Deki as a great way to make sure money goes directly to the people who need it. I put £40 in to try it, and really liked being able to keep reinvesting it over and over. My two nieces have got involved, and have started investing some of their Christmas money too. They particularly like helping mums who are trying to support their kids.
Africa is so full of resources; natural, mineral and human, but we have been “taking” for hundreds of years in ways that means the people of Africa, in the main, don’t benefit. I have been lucky enough to travel through Africa quite a bit, and as well as being blown away by how amazing it is, I was also saddened by a lot of what I saw. It only takes a small shift in business ethics to radically change the future, and micro-loans are a great way of bypassing lots of the issues.
Cycling from Lands End to John O’groats is not your usual honeymoon….tell us more?
We are so fortunate to have been able to have a fabulous wedding, that we really wanted to be able to share some of the love that had been shown to us by all our friends and family, so the first step was deciding to ask people to donate money rather than give us wedding gifts. Then we started talking about how we could raise more, and we have both wanted to tick off Land End to John O’Groats.
How did you broach the subject with Charley!? Whose idea was it?
We were chatting to friends about both having LEJOG on our ‘bucket list’, and after too many glasses of wine, said we would go for it on our honeymoon. By the time we sobered up it was too late! Hopefully we will still be married at the end of it.
How long will it take? What’s going to be the toughest bit?
It is 12 days of cycling, with a day either side to get to LE and back from JoG. Believe it or not, everyone says Cornwall is the toughest bit, more hilly than Scotland. But the long distance cyclists all say day three is the hardest as your body is trying to get used to constant effort. After that, apparently, it should be fine.
Why did you choose to support Deki?
I believe in helping people to help themselves, and because Deki works directly with the people who need the money the most, I feel that I can make more of a difference. Of course, sometimes we do need to give emergency aid as a one-off gift, but otherwise I firmly believe that we need to ensure that aid is offered in a way that will help families look after themselves in the longer term, and enable parents to send their kids to school rather than having to force them to work from a young age. It is obviously a bonus when they are able to pay back the loans so that the money can be reinvested with even more families, over and over again.
How have you both been preparing for the trip?
We have done a fair bit of cycling over the last few months, and did a 65 mile practice ride over to Glastonbury and back last weekend with all our kit. There is also a lot of prep in sorting out the route – everyone seems to go a different way. We are panning to use as much Sustrans National Cycle Route as possible, and we are cheating a bit by staying in Air BnB instead of camping (well, it is our honeymoon!)
How do you describe Deki to your friends who don’t know about us?
As a micro-loans charity, offering families in Africa direct aid that can help them to work their way out of poverty. I talk about ‘sustainability’ in its broadest sense, and after so much bad publicity about admin overheads and some charity salary packages for their CEOs, I also talk about how open and transparent the Deki system is. As an investor, you are completely in control of where the money goes, and can choose whether to also donate to Deki itself.
Why is making a such a positive impact to others lives so important to you?
We are incredibly fortunate to be able to walk into a supermarket and buy coffee, flowers, fruit, chocolate and all manner of other luxury goods, with hardly a thought about where they have come from and who produced them. So, to be honest, it helps me feel OK about that, and as well as looking out for fair trade labels, I can also send some money so that even more people can then benefit from that trade.
Capitalism has let Africa down. Yes, lots of people have benefited, but overall, Africa has been pillaged and plundered by the west, with very little understanding of the detrimental impact that results from mining, food production, oil extraction, poaching and tourism.
Through small changes, we can all make a big difference. I’m not being sanctimonious when I mention that we bought our wedding rings from an ethical source, just pointing out that it is actually really easy now to do the right thing, and for lots of people a few extra pounds should be the real price to pay. Deki is just one great example of how we can all help create a better future by doing that extra bit, as and when we can afford to.
Have you been inspired to challenge yourself to change lives? Please email our Fundraising Manager Rowan on firstname.lastname@example.org