My name is James Ouma. For the past three years, I have been cycling to break boys out of prison. It is a journey – actually an adventure – that begun in 2018 when my friends and I decided to cycle to raise money for Lifesong Kenya. This year, our aim is to cycle from the shores of Lake Victoria to the shores of the Indian Ocean.
I think the only easy part of cycling to break boys out of prison, is actually deciding to do it. I look back at the first cycling event in 2018, and shake my head. The decision to cycle and use it to raise funds was made out of ignorance. When I say this, I don’t mean that I am harboring any sorts of regrets. I didn’t spend a lot of time on training, preparing and educating myself on cycling across the country.
This became apparent when I started struggling during the event. The reality of what I had signed up for hit hard when the elements of the weather caught up with us. Kicking off from CITAM Woodley Church to Aloe Park Hotel in Naivasha was exciting. I had the same experience cycling from Naivasha to Nakuru Town. On the third and fourth day, the going got rough.
As we left Nakuru, the sun peaked and smiled at us. Bu by the time we arrived in Njoro Town, the sky opened and the rains pelted us. The rain beat on us like it had never done before. I remember we arrived at this petrol station where we had to stop in order to get our rain jackets from the car. One of the guys at the petrol station asked why we were cycling and we told him we were cycling to raise funds for our work in prison.
“Do those people really deserve being helped after doing bad things?” he asked. “I can’t cycle in the rain, leave alone helping such people!”
“Our work involves connecting them to their families and the people they have wronged,” I said. “This helps them to get reconciled before they come back home. That is why we are cycling.”
Experiencing Pure Joy
There were many other challenges along the way. One of them was an unfortunate incident that happened. We were descending towards Kericho Town when a car that had overtaken us veered off the road without warning. I turned to the left and crashed to the ground. Once we left Kisumu Town, we realized we weren’t going to make it on time before the ferry crossed over to Mbita Bay. That meant cycling without stopping for lunch!
Though this wasn’t the first time we were cycling 100 KM+, this time I struggled. Plus, my bicycle kept having a slow puncture. Knowing that our car had to make it across the lake on the ferry, I asked the rest of the team to go ahead. By the time I was arriving, it was pitch dark and I had to use a motor boat to get across.
Days after the cycling event was over, I felt pain, all over my body. However, it was a wonderful journey that gave me pure joy and fulfillment. Since 2018, I have cycled two more times and will be cycling this year – God willing – in November. Each time I have cycled, I have had ample time to reflect on my life and refine my goals.
One of my goals has been to become a Life Coach and that was refined during our cycling events. Much as I am cycling to break boys out of prison, I am getting inspiration and courage to pursue my personal dreams.