Students to cycle from Belgium to India for social change

Joel Friesen and Brad Dornian are less than two months away from embarking on a cycling adventure that will take them on a fundraising tour across Europe and into Asia to help free women and children from sex slavery.

Over the course of five months, they’ll cycle from Belgium to India—a journey that will take them 10,000 kilometres through 14 countries.

Friesen, who attends Trinity Western University, and Dornian, who attends Columbia Bible College, are calling their fundraising project Into the Silent Planet. Funds will go to Lighthouse Voyage, a non-profit organization started by one of Friesen’s classmates at TWU, David Punnamannil. According to the website, Lighthouse Voyage’s purpose is to “bring hope, freedom and new life for women and children in the brothels, slavery and slums of India.”

Friesen, a former Spartan athlete, decided to take the trip out of a desire to do something meaningful for a cause that mattered. “Last summer I had a huge identity crisis,” he says. “I had two things put on my heart: travel and social justice for the sexually exploited. So I thought, ‘Why don’t I do a bike ride?’ I had this healthy sense of peace and fear. I hadn’t really had any fear in my life before, and something about this—to do something that actually scared me a bit—seemed right.”

According to the project’s website, the name Into the Silent Planet is a reference to a C.S. Lewis novel called Out of the Silent Planet. In it, the Silent Planet has become corrupt and evil. Those living on the other planets are aware of its condition, but choose to let it to remain as it is.

“In a similar manner,” the website reads, “we in the Western world tend to be the ones living comfortably from a distance, often turning a blind eye to the evil and exploitation experienced in other parts of our world. We do not want to turn our backs any longer. This is our journey into the Silent Planet.”

“It’s about the freedom of all people,” Friesen says. “That’s spiritual. That’s emotional. That’s physical. That’s not being trapped in a room and being driven around in vans without a choice of where you’re going. People have the power to change this.”

Friesen and Dornian hope to raise $20,000, which will go through Lighthouse Voyage directly to two local organizations, Believers Active Mission and Mercy Missions, which are already established in providing care across India and Nepal. So far, Into the Silent Planet has raised $4,000. 

The students, who will take the fall semester off from their studies for the trip, will have occasional help and companions along their journey, but the cross-continent trip will largely be just the two of them and their bicycles. They leave for Europe on June 20. 


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