Half Way Cycle 2018: Day 2 Aloe Park, Naivasha to Gees Inn, Nakuru Distance Cycled: 205 KM
This is a continuation of How My Maiden Cycling Adventure Unfolded. For the next one week I will be sharing what happened during my maiden 500 KM bike ride to raise funds for my work with boys in juvenile prison.
I have worked in prisons as a volunteer since July 2017. However, each time I go to prison, it is like my first time. I still get shocked by the congestion, illiteracy, stigma and broken family ties witnessed in our prisons. Naivasha GK Prison was no different. The only difference was the fact that we were visiting an adult prison.
When I quit my job as a TV producer to focus on working in prison, I knew I had gone deep. I was going deeper and was going to find it difficult not to keep spiralling into the unknown. With time, not having a source of income became part and parcel of my life. I would start each month and end it without a budget.
Cycling my maiden 500 KM to raise funds took me way deeper. Each kilometre cycled rubber stamped prison work into my psyche. There is no turning back now. All I can do is bite my lips and take on the many challenges that keeps coming my way.
As we left Aloe Park where we had camped, a momentary dark shadow hung over the horizon. Sam Kibiko was not going to continue riding with us to Migori due to work engagements in Nairobi.
I met Sam when I needed direction with planning the cycling. In fact, I was on the verge of giving up. I still had one bike while Earnest, Craig, Kevin and Waylong had shown interest in joining our event.
During his visit at our office, Sam shared valuable insight on fundraising through cycling. He also offered to donate one of his bike to Lifesong Kenya.
Both Nyawira and Craig were going to meet inmates for the first time. Despite our past experience, prison always had unexpected turns and unearthed gems.
While Lifesong Kenya’s Inside Out Program has prepared us for what to expect, adult prisoners is a different thing. When you see an adult in prison, chances are that he has been in and out of prison. That leaves a sour taste in my mouth and causes me untold pain.
Our visit at Naivasha GK Prison showed just how crippling prison life can be. The situation and experience is usually the same in every prison and include:-
- lack of visitation from family and loved ones
- overcrowding in prison facilities
- lack of adequate skill training
- prisoners having given up on themselves
- stigma when one exits prison
The amazing things that happened on Day 2
Most of them had not known the treasure that magazines, newspapers and books at the prison library holds. Who can blame them? Most of them can’t read or write. This calls for innovative ways of teaching. During our visit, we shared lessons on how to set goals using pictures.
“Thank you so much for teaching us to set goals using pictures,” one of the inmates said.
“I did not know that I am surrounded by treasure all around me,” another one added.
An epic ride to the unexpected
Once our visit was over, Nakuru Town beckoned. We got onto our bikes and resumed cycling. The heat pierced its way to our sweating backs. Elisha continued offering instructions and help. Once in awhile, he rode back and forth to ensure everyone was okay.
I lost touch with Earnest and Nyawira who were riding faster. All of us were now cycling. That meant that Cynthia was in the car alone. Her role now included driving and playing the part of a cheerleader. i knew that the snail’s pace we were cycling at on hills was going to affect her.
I was concerned about Craig’s pace and kept looking behind me. As we descended towards Gilgil Weigh Bridge my phone rang. When I finally came to a stop, I had almost reached the weight bridge. It turns out that Mary Njoki and a team from our church wanted to say hi and pray with our cycling team.
A ride that changed the way I view my work with vulnerable groups
Going back where they had found Cynthia and Craig meant cycling 5 KM back. It also meant I was going to cycle an extra 10 KM that day. I don’t know if I would have not done this had I known that an intense cycling in the darkness awaited us.
Well, seeing and praying with Mary, Matilda, Victoria and Meli meant the whole world to me. We cracked jokes, laughed and took selfies after which we prayed and parted ways. Mary and our friends were coming back from Kisumu where a mom’s friend – Dorothy Evans – had been buried.
Things that went wrong and the things that made up for it
During lunch, I – yes you guessed it right – rushed to the toilet the moment food hit the walls of my stomach. After lunch Kevin, Earnest, Nyawira, Elisha and I pretty much rode together.
When we arrived at CITAM Nakuru a second dark shadow hung over my head. A few weeks before this, we discovered we were not going to get accomodation or meals from the church. Our arrival coincided with an important event but it still hurt not being able to get support.
I could tell that no one expected us to come good on our promise to cycle from Nairobi to Migori Town. Then why did we stop, you may ask. Because we are men and women of character, honor, integrity and keep our word.
Dealing with our hurt and disappointment
“Smiling is definitely one of the best beauty remedies. If you have a good sense of humor and a good approach to life, that’s beautiful.”
– Rashida Jones
We had not planned on lingering much longer. But we found ourselves lingering longer than we had anticipated. Deep inside, I was hoping to hear that men had contributed towards our cycling fundraiser. But this did not in any way dampen my spirits. We still had a ride ahead of us to see and meet young men who had grown up as street boys.
Unlike what I had been told over the phone, where we were cycling wasn’t that close. Bearing in mind how tired we were and the extra 10 KM I had cycled, the going continued getting tougher. I wish I had taken it as a sign of beautiful things to come…
This is how my maiden cycling adventure unfolded continues…