A Johannesburg journalist is cycling 3000km across the country to raise funds for poverty stricken schoolchildren in rural regions, writes Ismail Suder.
Azhar Vadi, may not be the iconic image of the perfect athlete, but his challenge to ride his bicycle for 3000km across South Africa for charitable causes is something that even he finds daunting.
Vadi, the founder of Salaamedia and Salaam Foundation whose media platforms focuses on “humanitarian Journalism”, hopes that his challenging feat would help raise money to support “impoverished kids through their early years of education”.
#Riding4SAeducation is scheduled to kick off on February 7 – on his 34th birthday. The ride will start at Limpopo’s Musina border post with Zimbabwe and will end at Cape Point in the Western Cape by mid March.
Al Qalam caught up with Vadi in Johannesburg where he was hard at work, training for the challenge. Vadi said he normally rides socially and enjoys mountain biking, but every now and then, also takes part in cycle races.
“But off course, there was the time once when I rode over 500km from Lenasia to the Mozambican border, but no doubt, the upcoming trip would be far more grueling, he said.
“Yes, it will be a great physical effort on my part. I am not the most athletic person around, but I believe the charitable cause for which I am doing this, will push me to achieve the distance. For the past year, Salaamedia and Salaam Foundation have supported several education projects in the country including digging boreholes in schools and putting up veggie tunnels. This is in fact an intensification and expansion of our commitment to SA education,” said Vadi.
Vadi said he has received widespread support for the challenge to raise funds – and groups of cyclists have indicated interest in joining him for sections of the route.
A call has also gone out to communities, business and individuals to donate to the Salaam Foundation fund for education development projects in South Africa.
Among the identified needs in rural areas of the country are the constructions of toilets at schools where pit latrines are currently used. Funds are also needed for the provision of containerised kitchens and libraries, school shoes for learners who cannot afford them and bicycles for children who walk extremely long distances to class every day.
Shamsheer Khan, a director at Salaamedia and Salaam Foundation said, “As South Africans we need to contribute positively to our country and the people around us. We face tough challenges and to make an effort in the field of education is the best place to start.”
The campaign has also been encouraging residents of various areas to forward suggestions of schools that they are aware of, that could benefit from the project. Details should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Those wishing to participate in the ride for any distance can also email the above address.
The cycle will pass through approximately 50 towns and cities along the following route:
Beit Bridge border, Musina, Louis Trichard, Polokwane, Mokopane, Mookgopong, Modimolle, Bela Bela, Hammanskraal, Pretoria, Laudium, Marlboro, Houghton, Robertsham, Soweto, Lenasia, Roshnee, Benoni, Springs, Evander, Standerton, Volksrust, Newcastle, Danhauser, Dundee, Glencoe, Ladysmith Colenso, Escourt, Howick, PMB, Durban, Port Shepstone, Margate, Harding, Kokstad, Mount Frere, Mthatha, Butterworth, East London, King Williams Town, Grahamstown, Port Elizabeth, Jeffrey’s Bay, Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, George, Mossel Bay, Swellendam, Cape Agulhas, Hermanus, Bot River, Cape Town, Cape Point.
He called on people to support the cause by coming out and welcoming the #Riding4SAeducation team as they visit different areas.
“Being welcomed by little kids, families and fellow riders is always something special. I look forward to that,” Vadi added.
Khan called on residents of towns that he and his team would be passing through, to assist by spreading the message on social media and informing local media houses about the intended trip.
“We must create tremendous hype around the issue of improved basic education. This is the foundation for future growth in South Africa. We must raise the standards by raising awareness.”