EAST London-born Lindsay van der Byl is cycling more than 1500km from the Union Buildings in Pretoria to Parliament in Cape Town to encourage young people to read.
His challenge serves as a reading awareness campaign whereby South African citizens are asked to follow his progress through various mediums including print, television, radio and social media.
EX-EL MAN PEDALS 1500KM FROM PRETORIA TO CAPE TO PROMOTE READING, LITERACY
IT HAS BEEN MY DESIRE FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS TO IMPROVE ON DECREASING THE LEVELS OF LITERACY
These platforms are then used to request donations of one or more reading books.
“From last year’s journey, we managed to get many books but our challenge is logistics and because we are only starting, it is difficult for people to assist.
“However, we are talking with the Nelson Mandela Foundation to transport the books to Qunu [Mandela’s birthplace in the Eastern Cape],” Van der Byl said.
His first trip last year was made more remarkable by the fact that he had just taken up cycling.
Before then he had never cycled more than 5km at a time, but has this year prepared better after completing last year’s 1550km ride in 12 days, comprising nine days of cycling and three days of rest.
“It has been my desire for the last two years to improve on decreasing the levels of literacy, not only among the youth but also the elderly, some of whom can’t even read or write their own names” Van der Byl said last year.
The former Alphendale Secondary School pupil targets schools with no library or other reading facilities or resources.
Promoting literacy in all schools is important to Van der Byl because of an alcohol poisoning incident at age 16 which led him to take a bet with a friend that he would abstain from substance abuse for six months. After successfully completing the bet, he decided he had already stopped, and had managed to save himself a lot of trouble and money – and has, since then, been clean of any substances.
This year, he is collecting books for rural Limpopo schools and said the support from the public and especially young parents had been great.
“Some message us and say they had signed their children up to local libraries and that is great because reading is life,” he said.
The trip to Cape Town has, as expected, not been all smooth sailing. “The wind is crazy, we had to stop in Laingsburg because it [the wind] was bad and we had to consider our safety, but as soon as it dies down, we will continue with our journey,” Van der Byl said from the road.
The 31-year-old has been joined by Sibusiso Buthelezi who went to Johannesburg in 2007 in search of greener pastures. “He worked as a painter for the company which had a contract with a school in Johannesburg and Sibusiso was able to study music through the school and he is now a qualified classical music instructor.
“It is stories like these that we are putting out there to encourage other young people [to read and study],” he said.
The team also visits underprivileged schools and gives motivational talks about the importance of education and living a positive lifestyle, not just on the route but through the year as well.
He is also the project manager for community workshops for the Sbusiso Leope Education Foundation, which is an award winning non-profit organisation.
Great success has been achieved under the chairmanship of founder and popular TV and radio personality DJ Sbu, a Forbes Africa Person of the Year 2013 nominee, kwaito singer and businessman.