I remember the very first time I informed my friends that I was going to cycle 500 KM to raise funds for Lifesong Kenya's prison work. Most of my friends laughed. I was weighing over 87 kilos and looked like I wasn't going to make it beyond 3 KM! Had it not been for my wife's constant encouragement and my commitment to the boys I had promised that I was going to cycle, I would have thrown in the towel.
And speaking of towels, I don't ever remember having more than one towel at any given time. This means that I wasn't going to throw in the only towel I own! Our cycling was set to kick off on December 12, 2018 and last for a week. 4 months earlier, my team and I drew up a route and a plan. We approached several churches along the route to provide us with a place to pitch tents and also have dinner and breakfast.
3 days before our kick off, I discovered that not only we were not going to have tents, cyclists pulled out while the churches declined to help us .
We were on our own.
I went into momentary panic mode. I was frustrated distraught and confused. Luckily, my team was determined that we were going to find a way out. One of our friends, who serves on the Lifesong Kenya advisory board, offered to connect us to a few hotels along our route. This enabled us to get discounted deals for accomodations, dinner and breakfast. Getting this breakthrough gave me additional motivation.
Walking to our church altar in cycling tights
The following day, we went to church where our team was going to be prayed for. That morning, I found myself as the only one - we were six in total - wearing cycling tights while the rest wore very churchy and comfortable clothes! The moment we entered the church, all heads and eyes turned in our direction. I was scared than I have ever been in a church.
"Why are you cycling from Nairobi to Migori Town?" Rev Jesse Mwai asked. "would you explain to the church why you're doing this?"
"Boys who exit juvenile prison often face stigma from their families and the community," I replied, shocked that I could hear my own voice without hearing a crack and feel my wobbly knees trembling.
"As a result, they join neighbourhood gangs, continue re-offending, get arrested and return to prison as hardened criminals," I continued. "Lifesong Kenya seeks to address this by providing a halfway house where the healing and reconciliation process between the boys and those they have hurt through crime will continue before they finally transition back to their families and communities."
"That's why we are cycling," I said.
A hush fell over the whole church. They had known I was committed to empowering boys in juvenile prison. But they didn't reckon I was so crazy I was willing to put my life on the line. A more bigger challenge awaited me in two days time.