Riders and volunteers of the SEA TRI KAN relax at the Enumclaw Field House after riding from Kent into the city. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Riders and volunteers of the SEA TRI KAN relax at the Enumclaw Field House after riding from Kent into the city. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Refugee supporters ride through Enumclaw

This year’s SEA TRI KAN ride, organized by World Relief, was the largest yet.

Four hundred miles in just five days — that’s what 45 bicyclists from all across Washington completed just last week, in order to raise money for the international nonprofit World Relief’s refugee resettlement programs.

It’s called the SEA TRI KAN, since the ride goes through Seattle, the Tri-Cities, and Spokane, the three cities that host World Relief offices that aid refugees that come into the state.

Riders started the fifth-annual ride early in the morning in Kent, biking to Enumclaw, taking a well-deserved break in front of the Enumclaw Expo Center’s Field House, and setting off again to finish their day at Camp Sheppard.

This year, they raised about $160,000, which is matched by the state government and goes toward World Relief programs that aim to help refugees and asylees — those who have been granted asylum — said Mckenzie Campbell, a World Relief Seattle outreach specialist who was traveling with the bikers.

“We used to be primarily known for resettling refugees, but [we’re] moving more into more of a community development role, and a role of empowering the immigrant community to give back and be part of the welcoming process again,” Campbell said. “The money that’s raised by the cyclists in particular goes toward a program that helps whole families, but it’s primarily focused on getting people to be what we call self-sufficient… folks get assistance with their living expenses and get some assistance right off the back in the first couple of months, but it’s moving them very quickly getting their first job and paying all their own bills, taking care of themselves, being able to participate in their children’s education, being able to schedule their own doctors appointments.”

The ride traditionally overlaps World Refugee Day, which this year was June 20.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are about 71 million forcibly displaced people around the world, 57 percent of which come from Syria, Afghanistan, and South Sudan.

In 2018, World Relief Seattle (which is actually in Kent) resettled 844 refugees and asylees in western Washington, according to the nonprofit’s handout. During the SEA TRI KAN ride, cyclists meet with a few of these refugees to listen to their stories.

Over on the other side of the mountains, Jackson Lino helps resettle refugees in eastern Washington.

As a former refugee himself, Lino knows how difficult, both physically and emotionally, resettlement can be.

Lino’s parents were killed in South Sudan when he was 2 years old, and he spent several years in a refugee camp in Kenya before he was resettled in Boise, Idaho, a branch that no longer exists.

The resettlement had many ups and down, he said.

“I got to grow as far as how to get along with, how to deal with people,” he said, naming a positive aspect of his journey. “Back home, it was very difficult to trust, but when I came here, I remember the first initial moment when we landed at the airport in Boise, and there were lines of people with banners and signs and screaming and cheering ‘Welcome to America, we’re so happy you’re here!’ … But prior to that, I never experienced that king of connection to people. There wasn’t that belonging to a place — we were always being chased away from our home. To have a place that was welcoming, allowing me to express my emotions, made me feel I was a human being.”

Of course, not everyone has been welcoming. About a year ago, Lino was confronted by a group of white supremacists when the African children’s choir he helped lead was giving a performance.

“They were wearing these dark jackets with guns on the backs, wording that said, ‘We don’t want refugees here.’ Outside, they were chanting ‘refugees are all terrorists,’” Lino recalled.

Despite the intimidation, Lino’s choir performed their song, “We Are Not Forgotten,” and to his surprise, one of the more verbally-abusive men in the front row broke down crying.

“He felt he was very conflicted. He apologized in front of everybody and said, ‘I didn’t come to scare anybody — I came because I wanted to be heard,’” Lino continued. “He just wanted to be heard. He wanted to know people cared about his voice and what he was thinking. That’s what everybody wants.”

Lino said he was very blessed to have been a part of that moment.

Last year, he was a part of the SEA TRI KAN ride, but this year came along as support staff.

While the ride is exhausting, and participants rely on the kindness of strangers to provide them shelter and food, many of the cyclists are amateur bikers, Campbell said, with a wide range of ability — this year, their oldest biker was 80, and the youngest was 24.

For some, it was their first ride; others, like Enumclaw resident Mike Miller, aim to make it an annual tradition.

“At the end of a ride like that, someone says, ‘Oh, how was it? Was it good? Are you going to do it again?’ And my answer to them is, ‘How could I not?’” he said. “This country is an immigrant country, and this is just the next crew coming in… the stories that you hear, how people got here, is remarkable. When you hear their story, you can’t sit on the couch anymore. You have to go.”

For more information about World Relief Seattle or the SEA TRI KAN ride, go to https://worldreliefseattle.org/stk.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

Jackson Lino, left, and Mike Miller, right, meet up again in front of the Enumclaw Expo Center’s Field House for a meal of Chipotle. They first met a year ago when Lino also rode the SEA TRI KAN, but this year, he went along as support staff. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Jackson Lino, left, and Mike Miller, right, meet up again in front of the Enumclaw Expo Center’s Field House for a meal of Chipotle. They first met a year ago when Lino also rode the SEA TRI KAN, but this year, he went along as support staff. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

More in News

National Guard troops, pictured Jan. 11 at the state Capitol in Olympia, have been on standby in case of violent protests. (Photo by Roger Harnack, Cheney Free Press)
At the state Capitol, a quiet day amid heightened security

There were no protests or arrests as troopers patrolled and the National Guard assumed a lower profile.

Seattle-King County Public Health recommends users keep Naloxone on their person, just in case of overdose. File photo
King County sees spike in fatal overdose cases

42 suspected or confirmed overdose deaths were recorded between Dec. 27 and Jan. 9.

A parcel of land on Roosevelt Avenue would be developed into lots for 23 single-family homes if the city approves. Photo by Kevin Hanson
Council awards bid for roundabout in front of Enumclaw High

Also, 23 more homes could be coming to Roosevelt Avenue.

Property along Mud Mountain Road has sat vacant and unused for years. Now, a local group has come forward with a proposal for the city-owned park land. Photo by Kevin Hanson
Group proposing rehab center, public trail system on city park land

Anderson Riverview Park could get a facelift in the near future.

Former Councilman Tony Binion resigned his position immediately at the Jan. 11 meeting, while Councilman Kyle Jacobson will stay in his position until the end of the month. Photo by Ray Miller-Still
Two Enumclaw council members leaving their posts

Tony Binion and Kyle Jacobson are moving outside city limits — one just to unincorporated King County, and the other a lot farther.

West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle. Photo courtesy of King County
Power outages cause massive wastewater spill into Puget Sound, Lake Washington

King County estimates millions gallons of untreated wastewater overflowed into surrounding waters.

Democrats in the Washington State House are proposing to pay for transportation improvements partly by raising the gas tax by 18 cents. (Sound Publishing file photo)
House Democrats lay out massive $26B transportation package funded by gas tax hike

An 18-cent gas tax increase and a fee on carbon emissions would fund new roads and more.

File photo
Report: 70 percent of gun deaths in Washington are attributable to suicide

Research done at The Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program at Harborview… Continue reading

XXX
BECU scholarships open

High school seniors and college students can apply for a $2,500 scholarship.

Most Read