Teacher uses cycling to raise money against online sexual exploitation
MANILA, Philippines – Through cycling, Simon Fox is making sure others are made free.
For 8 months, the 27-year-old ventured on what he calls a “world cycle tour.” He had been to Turkey, India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines carrying only his bike and his hopes of helping end the online sexual exploitation of children.
He had to spend Christmas and the New Year away from his loved ones in London but it was all made worth it knowing that he is making a difference with the International Justice Mission (IJM).
IJM is an international organization that focuses on combatting human rights abuse, including cybersex trafficking.
Fox, a high school geography teacher, has been into sports ever since. He is a finisher in 3 editions of the London Marathon and had been planning of doing a cycling world tour.
Last September, his plans came to fruition with the help of IJM.
“After 4 years of teaching, I decided that now is the time to do a big world tour. I’m a Christian as well as a cyclist and I knew I had to have a greater purpose to my trip because I felt that cycling alone will be a little bit aimless like, ‘What’s the point?'”
“I would have never done the trip if it was just about cycling because I think like that kind of traveling for me, it would have been aimless and purposeless. In visiting churches and raising awareness for IJM, I’ve got more of a mission to achieve in the cycling. The two together kind of like real compliment,” said Fox.
Since then, he had visited more than 50 churches and 3 IJM offices, one in Cebu and one in Manila, where he learned more of the organization’s advocacy.
According to IJM, 87% of online sexual explotation victims in the Philippines are minors while 55% are 12 years old and below.
Even children as young as two months old are subjected to horrific sexual abuse in front of webcams and perpetrators profit from this by streaming the videos online for paying customers all over the globe.
Fox has helped rescue kids that underwent such ordeal through crowdfunding.
As he cycled through terrains, mountains and the scorching heat of the sun, Fox surpassed his goal of raising £3,000 for IJM and its advocacy. As of press time, he has raised £3,221 or more than P200,000.
“I’ve been given complete freedom, I’ve been given such freedom that I can cycle around the world but some people are trapped in this cycle of poverty and parents or relatives might think that the only way to make money is to sell their children into online selling and making of videos and all that,” said Fox.
“That really makes me think that, ‘Wow, I’m so blessed and I’ve been made free. I need to do all I can to make sure others are made free.'”
Not turning a blind eye
Fox is already back in London but he said his support for IJM does not stop with the end of his cycling tour.
As a teacher, he can also impart the knowledge he gained from more than 20 countries he visited to his students.
“I love my sport, I do love teaching, I’m a geography teacher, so now I’ve got all these experience that I can talk about in the classroom,” said Fox.
“I think like right now, I’ve learn about these things, I just can’t turn a blind eye. I’m going to be like a lifetime ambassador or supporter. It’s kind of through sport and through cycling that I’ve learned more about the charity and what they do and definitely my heart is going to be changed to be a lifelong supporter of what they do.”
Delfin Dioquino, Rappler.com