Dutch cyclist completes 11 000 African kms in support of orphans

Shayne Rookhuyzen, former South African now living in Netherlands, has ridden his bicycle more than 11 000km for a project called Wheels of Hope for the Support Orphans in Southern Africa (SOSA) foundation.

The journey, from Cairo to Cape Town, was sponsored by Ricoh and has raised nearly R285 000 for the Netherlands-based foundation.

“Shayne has been an enthusiastic amateur cyclist and runner born to Dutch parents in South Africa,” says JP Skinner, sales support co-ordinator and customer relations officer at Ricoh Europe SCM as well as the organiser behind Rookhuyzen’s epic charity ride. “Shayne has travelled extensively throughout Africa and knew well orphans’ needs on the continent. In South Africa alone there are 3,3 million orphans, as many as there are children in the Netherlands.”

Rookhuyzen’s ride traversed Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and ended at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Centre in Cape Town, South Africa. It took around three-and-a-half months after beginning on February 16 and ending on May 24.

He averaged roughly 150km and 8 hours per day using equipment sponsored by Ricoh, amounting to just 25kg besides the bicycle, to ensure that all proceeds could be given to charity. He had no support vehicle and he spent his nights in a small tent with a Waka Waka solar powered light and recharge unit with a gas burner to cook his meals. He experienced long periods of loneliness and extreme weather with temperatures reaching nearly 40 degrees Celsius. He performed all of his own maintenance and had more than 10 000km of puncture-free riding, thanks mainly to his Schwalbe Marathon Mondial sponsored tires. Ricoh sponsored his KOGA World Traveller bicycle, the Yellow Brick GPS tracker, cycling gear and additional bicycle equipment, as well as posters, flyers and other media activities.

During his ride Shayne distributed SOSA flyers to raise awareness about the foundation and the plight of orphans in Africa.

“Unlike most European countries, most orphanages and organisations depend on the support of others to give these children a safe home,” says Skinner. “Foundation SOSA supports four of these orphanages and organisations with direct help. The founding members collect donations in the Netherlands and buy the supplies personally or through family assistance in Johannesburg and Cape Town and deliver them to where they are needed. There is no more direct means of using all donations to a worthy cause.”

“Without Ricoh’s support there would be no Wheels of Hope project,” says Skinner. “Our promise that 100% of the donations are spent on children could only be realised if the costs were covered.”