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Charlie Simpson’s Inspired Bike Ride for Victims of Haiti’s Earthquake

Juan Carlos

DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL IMPACT @ PARTICIPANT MEDIA

 

When a catastrophic earthquake hit Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, Charlie Simpson, a seven-year-old from London, was deeply moved and knew he must do something to help. Empowered by his family, Charlie decided to bike for Haiti and garnered the world’s support.

It is a widely held misconception that hunger and extreme poverty will always be with us. The cost of these misperceptions is one life every three seconds—meaning 30,000 die needlessly every day. Charlie’s ride is profiled in the documentary “Every Three Seconds” that looks at seemingly ordinary people who decide to take extraordinary actions in their communities

Where were you when you first learned about the earthquake that had hit Haiti?

I was on my way back from school, and my mum told me about it. And then we watched it on the news that evening.

What prompted you to decide to take action? How did it go from just an idea to becoming something real?

On the news there were pictures of kids my age being pulled out of the rubble. They had lost their friends, parents, and families. I felt really bad about that.

My mum said that if I felt so strongly, then I should try and do something about it. We chatted about how I could go about it, and I came up with the idea of riding my bike.

Courtesy Every 3 Seconds

Why did you choose bicycling for UNICEF? What’s important about fund-raising for causes thousands of miles away?

I chose UNICEF because I really wanted to help the children, and they look after kids when they need real help. It’s just the same if they are your neighbor or live on the other side of the world—it doesn’t really make a difference; we’re all just people.

Now that you’ve been through such a life-changing experience, would you want to do it again? What are you doing now?

It didn’t really change my life loads, but I didn’t do it to change my life—I just hope it made other people’s lives a bit better. I’m focusing on school at the moment—I’m moving to secondary school this term. I would definitely do it again if I felt strongly about the issue. For instance, I worked with some other kids to help raise money and awareness when Somalia was going through a really bad drought.

Courtesy Every 3 Seconds

Is it hard to be in the spotlight like you were, and what does something like that do to the whole family?

I don’t really mind being in the spotlight, but I think my family helped to keep things as easy as possible for me. I think it’s more of a question for my mum and dad!

Do you ever feel hopeless about the problems in the world? What makes you want to continue fighting to do good?

Sometimes I feel a bit hopeless—life can be really unfair—but there are also really good people out there trying to help.

It’s not a matter of fighting for good; it’s a matter of will.

How do you want to stay involved in changing other people’s lives? What issue do you care about most?

Any time any group of people has been written off, it grabs me. I can’t do nothing. Women are consistently marginalized and related to as subhuman, our right to personal safety often regarded by even seemingly progressive policy makers as an optional extra. Yet healthy, safe, educated women are the key to our global future. If you want to stabilize the world, see societies thrive, then women and girls are the best possible investment.

Courtesy Every 3 Seconds

Do you want to do more fund-raising, start a nonprofit in the future? What are your aspirations??

I would definitely do more fund-raising in the future. I don’t know about starting a nonprofit…that sounds kind of grown-up! Honestly, my aspirations change from month to month—I just hope that whatever I do with my life, it will be worthwhile, and if I can help people at the same time, then that would be awesome.

If there were one piece of wisdom you could impart to the world, what would it be?

Small things can make big changes.