Introducing Bikers Against Child Abuse
Bro Sam Bondarenko reports on Hazara Lodge No 4159 – ‘The Cigar Lodge’ supporting child–empowering bikers
Hazara Lodge No 4159 has, for over a century, brought Masonic brothers together through a shared love of fellowship, charity … and the occasional cigar. Bro Sam Bondarenko, Charity Steward, wanted a cause to fit with the ethos of the lodge members and close to everyone’s heart.
The Lodge approached Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.), an international organisation with a Mission to empower abused children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live. Bro Sam says:
‘Supporting a more ‘traditional’ charity did not fit well with us. We wanted to support a cause where the money would end up being used for the people who needed it, not on large salaries. I’d heard of B.A.C.A. in the U.S.A. through social media and found they were established in the U.K. All our members agreed that it was an amazing cause, so I reached out to Capital Chapter and had a long chat with Dozer, their President, who explained how they work and what they do. The Lodge was in full support, so we invited Dozer to a white table where we presented the first cheque for £500. Dozer and his team have visited the Lodge a few times since then at white tables. Every time he explains the principles of B.A.C.A and what they do.Our members and visitors always feel very emotional; some have even been brought to tears. We believe our brethren should know about this organisation.’
Founded in 1995 in Utah, U.S.A., by a registered child play therapist, B.A.C.A. operates across 17 countries worldwide. All B.A.C.A. members are volunteers and 100% of all donations go towards their mission to empower abused children. From their International President downwards, nobody in B.A.C.A. takes any recompense, nor do they receive any government funding. However, donations from independent sources, such as the Freemasons of Hazara Lodge, help B.A.C.A. make a difference … more about that later.
Removing the spectre of fear
Dozer explains, ‘Fear haunts all abused children. Fear that destroys childhood. Fear their abuser will harm them again. Fear of sleep that brings nightmares. Fear of being alone. Fear of having to testify in court. Whatever their fears, whenever they feel afraid, B.A.C.A. children know that B.A.C.A. will be there to help remove their fear. We are not counsellors or therapists, although we work closely with police, social services, child protection agencies and therapists that support abused children. We do not exist to provide for the material needs of children nor to be role models; we exist to ‘empower’ abused children. How do we do that? By bringing children into the B.A.C.A. family through a ceremony that emphasises they are no longer alone. By dedicating two B.A.C.A. Members as Primaries that remain on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, to support them with our physical presence.’
Helping B.A.C.A. to make a difference
Working with therapists enables B.A.C.A. to provide tangible help to abused children. However, waiting times for national services are extended, so B.A.C.A. pays for their children to have immediate access to private therapy, which can cost up to £100 per hour. This is where Hazara Lodge makes a difference.
Bro Sam says: ’To date, the Lodge has donated around £2,500 to B.A.C.A., with more donations planned in the future. We have such close links with B.A.C.A. that it is the only organisation my company supports, donating a further £8,000 to date. I keep the Lodge updated with B.A.C.A. activities through close contact with Dozer and their quarterly newsletter. The biker fraternity has such close synergy with Freemasonry … values, respect, loyalty and their behaviour towards each other … biker brothers and sisters compared to Freemasonry brothers.’
Making the case for B.A.C.A.
Research shows that B.A.C.A. children experience a decrease in emotional stress and fewer conduct and attention problems. They do better at school, and have improved peer-group communication and relationships. The results of the research are sufficient enough to be considered clinically-significant findings.
Bro Sam adds: ‘We have supported B.A.C.A for some years now and are delighted that our financial donations enable them to provide immediate support to abused children. As importantly, we have realised that telling people about B.A.C.A could lead to an abused child being brought into their family, and for a child, that could make all the difference’.
Dozer concludes: ‘B.A.C.A. is a tightly regulated, free-of-charge service, delivered by security-cleared, highly-trained volunteers working within a strict Safeguarding Policy, ready to support abused children because: ‘No Child Deserves to Live in Fear’.
‘We desire to send a clear message to all involved with the abused child that this child is part of our organisation and that we are prepared to lend our physical and emotional support to them by affiliation and our physical presence. We stand at the ready to shield these children from further abuse. We do not condone the use of violence or physical force in any manner. However, if circumstances arise such that we are the only obstacle preventing a child from further abuse, we stand ready to be that obstacle.’
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 47 January 2022 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 47 here.