Why we ride
The Nedbank Tour de Tuli may not be a race, but it’s an event with a real purpose behind it. ‘Purpose’ is a word you hear often in the Wilderness Safaris universe, but nowhere does it resonate more than on the Tour.
The Tour is the single biggest fundraising event for Children in the Wilderness (CITW), and the money raised through entrance fees and sponsorship not only ensures an awesome experience for everyone concerned but goes on to have a lasting impact well after the last mountain bike has been transported home.
What does CITW stand for?
CITW is a non-profit organisation supported by ecotourism company Wilderness Safaris, which aims to facilitate sustainable conservation through leadership development and education of children in Africa.
As such, it’s a perfect fit with the Nedbank Tour de Tuli – an event which takes riders through pristine areas of African bush, gives them the chance to interact meaningfully with local community members (many of whom are children) and which has a strong educational element.
Back to school
On Day 3 of this year’s Nedbank Tour de Tuli, riders visited the Lentswe-le-Moriti primary school where they received the warmest of welcomes from the schoolkids and the Eco-Club leaders.
This was a proud moment for Tanya McKenzie, the Programme Coordinator in Bobirwa, Botswana as it involved the happy coincidence of two of her passions: fundraising for CITW and making a difference in the lives of children.
Any rider who was experiencing flagging energy levels at this point was soon revived by the sight (and singing) of the kids, who exhorted them to renewed efforts with rousing renditions of their trademark ‘100% song’.
Visiting the school brought home the reality of life in remote communities for many riders and gave them valuable insights into what the funds they had pedalled so hard to raise were being used for.
Making connections; making a difference
For the children, it was a reminder that they are part of a much bigger family, and that although they may be off many people’s maps, they matter – and so to do the decisions that they will make as adults, in terms of their natural resource heritage.
The bikes proved to be the perfect ‘ice-beakers’ between the riders and the kids, and many of them had the opportunity to ride around the schoolyard, carefully balanced by the riders. The expressions on the kids’ faces ranged from curiosity to delight, and it’s precisely this sort of new experience that CITW Eco-Clubs offer them.
Tanya explained that kids had been learning how interconnected the world is, and that this was a perfect example of people from different cultures and backgrounds coming together with a common purpose.
The leaders of the future
“Meeting the riders will certainly have broadened their horizons”, said Tanya, “which is vital, given that they will be tomorrow’s community leaders and will be taking decisions that affect all of us, when it comes to protecting and managing Africa’s wild places.”
Children like those in Bobirwa are the future custodians of all that we seek to preserve, and through the CITW programme, we can inspire them to genuinely care about the wilderness areas that are their inheritance.
For the riders, knowing that they are pedalling all these kilometres to meet a very real need is the ultimate motivation, and many described this as being the thought that helped them push through the occasional sandy patch or to ignore the protests of tired arms and legs towards the end of each day.
The Nedbank Tour de Tuli perfectly encapsulates the essence of CITW: it’s a great deal of fun, but it has a serious purpose behind it. It’s an event for people who can enjoy the now, but also for those who are conscious of our shared responsibilities to future generations.
You can learn more about the work of CITW here: https://www.childreninthewilderness.com/
Written by Nick Galpine