NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 3 – Widows and orphans displaced from their homes in Kibera during the 2008 post election violence have new homes in Kinangop, thanks to the will of two British cyclists and the generosity of global payments technology company Visa Inc.
Matt Smith and Tim Simpson chose to ride away from their lives in London on a journey through Europe and Africa for charity.
The pair was on a mission to raise Sh7.6 million for the Turning Point Trust, a UK-based charity that funds farming projects for single mothers living in the slums of Nairobi, for the last nine years.
The cyclists’ journey began on June 3 on a tandem bike, covering over 5,600 miles through the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya among other countries.
“From the outset we knew that the journey was going to present us with some really tough challenges. One of the hardest things about our bike ride was that in order to get to Nairobi before everyone goes on holiday, we had to cycle 9,200 kilometres in under 75 days,” cyclist Tim Simpson said.
Using Visa Prepaid cards, the two cyclists carried no cash for the whole journey and covered the experience live. However, the unexpected terrain and extreme climate change in Africa proved to be a challenge for them.
“In Sudan we faced temperatures of up to 47 degrees in the desert and there were stretches of up to 80 km without seeing anyone or able to get water. Ethiopia was really mountainous which is really tough on a bike. It was the worst time to cycle through Ethiopia as it was rainy season,” Mr Simpson said.
Arriving in Kenya on August 16, Matt – a scientist by profession – and Tim, a teacher, said their trip was well worth helping the women and children who could finally settle in their new homes.
“All these challenges and hardships made it so important that we are cycling for such a worthwhile charity, otherwise we may have been tempted to just stop. These incredible mamas on the farm who have had real tough lives are determined to help themselves and their families,” said Tim.
The donation that was facilitated by Visa will fund just over 13 new plots of land on which families can be relocated and begin to sustain an economic livelihood.
“Enabling communities through social development and entrepreneurship is critical for the development of a country. The work that is done here at the Turning Point Trust is a wonderful example of how, by working together, people’s lives can be changed for the better,” said Visa Inc Country Manager East Africa Victor Ndlovu who spoke during the donation ceremony.
In contrast to the hardships of Kibera, the Turning Point community farm in Kinangop is a haven situated 120km northwest of Nairobi in the foothills of the Aberdare Mountains.
Each plot of land, comes complete with a two-room house, kitchen, toilet and bathroom costing approximately Sh562,518, at current exchange rate.