Nwabisa gears up to cycle for a good cause in South Korea

“I am guided each day by these three questions: ‘what are you fixing?’, ‘What are you making?’, ‘Who are you helping?’.” – Juliana Rotich.

This quote by Juliana is a very layered and empowering statement. It makes you think, introspect and look at your role in life retrospectively. While life can get busy for each of us, with our own life struggles and challenges – we also need to take a minute to breathe, take a look within and around us to see whether we’re contributing to the world we envision as a better world. It’s not an easy task but there are millions of people around the world who are committed and passionate about making, fixing, and helping.

Nwabisa Ngumbela is one of those people, and I think myself fortunate to be surrounded by such a beautiful soul with kindness, empathy and love engrained deep in her heart. Having uprooted her life to South Korea to teach, she thought up of a way to give back to the community of her home country.

In exactly three days from now, she’ll be cycling solo for 633kms in South Korea to raise funds for IkamvaYouth.

IkamvaYouth is a non-profit organisation that runs after-school programs in an effort to equip the youth from underprivileged and under resourced communities with tools, skills and knowledge that will enable them to access post-high school opportunities.

“I planned this on my own, and of course with a help of a friend who is an avid cyclist. Once I had mapped out my route and booked accommodation for the days I’d be cycling. I got in touch with the organisation I was interested in working with, then IkamvaYouth responded with a positive answer.”

I had a chat with Nwabisa about the finer details of this initiative:

Penned Pieces: How did this initiative come about?

Nwabisa Ngumbela: I’ve always dreamed of doing something epic with my life (at least in my eyes). I’ve toyed with the thought of circumnavigating Africa, and cycling across various countries, but my budget and time has never really allowed it. In 2015, a friend who knew about my desire to see the world on a bike, gifted me with Riaan Maanse’s book titled: Around Africa On My Bike. This dream was revived.

Now that I am here in South Korea and with a bit of time on my hands, I thought I should just get this monkey of my back. All I have to do is to start. I don’t know where this will lead me, or what the end result will be, at this point, I’m just surrendering to the unknown, and trusting in the universe.

Also, while I’m doing this as a challenge to myself, I thought it would be a great idea to link it to a good cause. And IkamvaYouth and similar organisations that fight poverty through education came to mind. While some organisations did not respond, and others got excited about the idea but never followed up. IkamvaYouth was on the ball from the get-go, the whole thing was set up within a matter of days.

PP: As a black African woman in an entirely different continent, and country, do you have concerns about your safety in this journey?

I’ve been living here for seven months now. And I’ve never felt safer. Korea is ranked as one of the safest countries in the world. I have not felt threatened in anyway, even when walking in the dead of the night with valuables on my purse.

The only safety that is of concern for me right now, is running into trouble along the way, say hurting myself and I’m still a good few hours away from civilisation. One of my friends will give me a crash course on changing a bike tyre in case I have to.

I’m also taking an Alan key with, a first aid kit, numerous power banks and lots of sunscreen. The gentleman who services my bike has also declared it fit for the long stretch. Basically, finishing this challenge in optimum health is my only concern.

PP: Which tools do you have to make sure this journey is as comfortable as it possibly can be?

NN: I have a tent, the tools I’ve mentioned above, I also have a cooling vest, and sleeves. It is the heart of summer here now. It’s unbelievably hot and it’s so humid.

PP: Apart from the donations, what are you hoping to achieve with this venture?

NN: For me it’s just the sense of achievement that comes with setting a goal and reaching it. But also, it would be nice to reach the target I’ve set, both the 633km and raising the 1500$.

PP: You’re obviously really passionate about giving back and using your voice, strengths and platform to help others. Can you tell me more about that?

NN: I guess this stems from growing up with nothing. I know what it’s like to go to bed for days on end on an empty stomach. Poverty is an ugly thing. It robs us of our dignity and it’s unnatural.

Also, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the people who’ve helped me along the way, either financially or otherwise.

With that said, I feel the need to give back, in any way I can, through random acts of kindness.  A friend I have just met recently, upon telling him about what I want to do, and how I felt it wasn’t enough said, “even a small act of kindness can cause a ripple effect.” And that’s all it takes. When people have been kind to you, it becomes difficult to be cruel to others, and the opposite rings through.

Here’s a link to the page where you can donate and share.