How Cycling 500 KM to Raise Funds Has Taken Me Deeper into Prison Work

James Ouma
Posted January 25, 2019 from Kenya

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.

Comments 10

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jlanghus
Jan 26
Jan 26

Hi James,

How are you doing? Thanks for sharing part of your inspiring cycling story with us. Did you finish your entire trek and did you raise the funds that you intended to?

Hope you're having a good day!

James Ouma
Jan 31
Jan 31

jlanghus,

I finish it and will be updating my experience

jlanghus
Jan 31
Jan 31

Great!

Beth Lacey
Jan 26
Jan 26

You are very strong....let us know how you made out

James Ouma
Jan 31
Jan 31

Thanks, I will keep you posted and have continued the story today

Bettina Amendi
Jan 27
Jan 27

Good Job James,you encouraged me.Passion can drive you crazy as not all people surrounding you would understand your assignment in the greater assignment.Kindly call Bibilia Husema Radio and ask for the contacts of Pastor Kihingu,he is doing a great job in the same line as you are.Keep me posted
Bettina

James Ouma
Jan 31
Jan 31

Thanks Bettina Amendi! Do you by any chance have the pastor's number?

Bettina Amendi
Jan 31
Jan 31

Thanks James,kindly check your inbox,Good day.

Rachyrae
Jan 30
Jan 30

James, your drive and tenacity is what people need to see in order to follow suite. You have become a model for others to break out of their boxes to influence change. I am rooting for you here in Nigeria.

James Ouma
Jan 31
Jan 31

Rachyrae, thanks for reading and for your comments