In Mid-February I headed off to Kenya to take part in a charity bike ride across the infamous Maasai Mara for Dig Deep - a charity dedicated to providing Taps, Toilets and Training across rural communities in Kenya. When I embarked on the 150km four day challenge I knew next to nothing about the cause I was supporting; I fancied a challenge and I love charity work. I had a fundraising target of £2900 - I have actually hit over £3400, and a cycle challenge was born!
The challenge itself was by far the hardest thing I have ever done physically. Forget the 7 hours a day in the saddle, I had to battle altitude and scorching heat, as well as rough and steep terrain at times. On day three our guide happened to mention that Olympians Daley Thompson and Steve Cram had also embarked on the challenge, but at some point had all spent time in the support vehicle 'resting' their legs! Whaaaat??? Oh and did I mention we went through the Maasai Mara and so beautiful wildlife was a plenty... and by that I mean Lions, Buffalo, cheetah, and zebra all wandered freely! Thankfully I didn’t look appetising as I am here to tell the tale. It’s amazing how quickly you can cycle uphill when you are sure there is a pride of lions eyeing you up from the shade!
I'm proud that I completed the challenge without getting in to the support vehicle, I made it on my own feet and wheels. A physical and emotional challenge that I will never forget; there was blood, sweat, lots of tears and a few choice words, but I made it.... and what came next is where I choke up!
After the cycle we had the chance to visit Dig Deep's projects, to see where and how the funds we had raised are used. Dig Deep aren’t trying to solve every problem everywhere - instead, they know where their is going to be most effective if they focus. They work with Narok and Bomet Counties in the South West of Kenya, where currently 8 out of 10 people lack access to clean water and sanitation. Since they were founded 10 years ago, Dig Deep has built taps and toilets that are serving over 27,000 people at any one time and rolled out training directly to over 26,000 people. In the next 5 years, they expect that these taps and toilets will provide clean water and improved sanitation for more than 46,000 people and the training will contribute to improved hygiene for as many as 219,000 people!
We visited 4 different schools where a combination of toilet blocks, taps and water tanks had been fitted, and we were lucky enough to attend an opening ceremony for a girls toilet block. To say that we were the guests of honour would be an understatement, and to say the girls were grateful would be doing them a disservice. What we had achieved together would literally change their lives, and in some cases would save lives – for this all of you who supported me must take a bow. I wish I could put into words how rewarding and how moving it was, but I can’t! The work that Dig Deep is doing is truly magnificent, and even though I started light heartedly taking part in a cycle challenge to test myself and raise a bit of money for charity, I am now an absolute supporter of the charity and will continue to support in any way I can. I promised those children I would be back to see how well they were doing at school and how well the toilets were working and I will, I am invested now and proud to be part of helping them change their lives!! If anyone is interested in taking on this incredible challenge - head over to https://www.climbforcleanwater.org/themaasaicycle
Lastly, a big thank you to everyone who supported me throughout the challenge!