Cyclists ride for 500km for the good and joy of the girl child

Kenyan-born Canadian lawyer in the Tour De Kenya. He cycled for 500km from Nairobi to Mombasa. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

To mark International Women's Day on March 8 in style, a clique of bosom friends set off on an adventure of a lifetime. To conquer 500 kilometres, Tour De Kenya decathlon for a worthy cause in aid of Kenya Kesho School for girls in Kwale.

This is a girls-only school that was founded by Peter Ruysenaars and his wife Sandra in 2006 to rescue young girls from early marriages and empower them through education as they seek to eradicate poverty within Pongwe Kidimu Community, Kwale County, Kenya.

The riders hit the road from Hilton Garden Inn in Nairobi at 4 am, covering 180 kilometers in the first stage, which took them nine hours before stopping in Makindu for an overnight stay.

They then took off the following day at 4 am from Makindu as they cleared the 160 kilometre stretch on the second leg in eight hours. They spent the night in Voi ahead of their final leg on Friday.

The last day saw the riders, who started off cycling during the Covid-19 pandemic as a hobby but having trained for this event since December 2022, head to Mombasa for the final leg, covering 160 kilometers in eight hours.

It was not your usual ride as the cyclists had to contend with difficult terrain. Day One had many challenges for the newbies especially, but the subsequent two days were not too steep.

With a team spirit that saw experienced riders encourage and push the rest to achieve their goal, they burnt between 3000 and 5000 calories daily.

The cyclists raised a total of Sh3.9 million in cash and Sh1.2 million in kind. They were supported in their quest by GT Bank, AAR Ambulance, I-Spy, Hilton Garden Inn - Nairobi, Actilife, Flametree Nandi and Ashif Madha.

They achieved their initial target of Sh 2.8 million for the school that survives on support from well-wishers.

After their conquest of the Nairobi - Mombasa route, the Tour De Kenya co-founders Mohammed Bhatti aka Jimmie and Neil Rebeiro are toying with the idea of cycling from Nairobi to Johannesburg, South Africa for a similar but yet to be identified cause.

Among those who took part in the fundraiser was Kenyan-born Canadian lawyer, Roland Lucas, a Union counsel who was back in Kenya after 32 years.

Lucas was happy that he fulfilled his childhood dream and a promise to his late father that he would give back to the society when he grew up.

Having suffered a heart attack in 2020, he knew how fragile life was and wore riding glasses to hide his tears for being emotional.

"The pain is temporary but the reward is actually gratifying and the glory is always forever," said Lucus on his three-day cycling experience.

"Sustainability of this project is an important factor. To cover meals, tuition, teachers' salaries and everything else that goes with running the school costs upwards of Sh 1.5 million annually," said Peter Ruysenaar - Kenya Kesho School for Girls founder.

By AFP 3 hrs ago
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