Thursday, March 31, 2011

How far can you cycle?

I remember the day when I heard I was accepted as a volunteer manager at Raleigh. It's just incredible. I'd heard that it was hard to get into international development so I was grateful and more or less amazed to hear that I got in. They even told me I was more than qualified! I was ready to make the most of the opportunity.

Here’s a little about myself. My name is Joe Arthurs, British, and I have just decided to have another career change. I had been working in finance when I decided to retrain as a carpenter. I wanted something more fulfilling. However, I found that this still wasn’t enough and I decided to move into the not for profit sector. I started to volunteer and work part time at a few different charities. For me it felt like I needed a positive change. I never went on a gap year and I had the urge to travel – I’ve always wanted to go away but I wanted to find an organisation that I cared about to get the most out of it.

Whilst being on a Positive Change seminar, I heard about Raleigh for the first time. I met some amazing characters and heard some unbelievable stories. Raleigh seemed like the perfect opportunity. It covered leadership and working with young people.

Right, enough about this and let me talk about the next step, the reason why this blog exists: to do the actual fundraising to cover the costs to go on a Raleigh expedition. Although it’s still far away (my expedition will be in autumn 2012), I’ve decided to start thinking about it right away. You know what my very first thoughts were? My friends and family have no money. So what am I going to do?! Because it’s so far away, some of my friends have agreed to donate £5 a month between now and then. I’ve got a house party one weekend where some bands will be playing and I will be using this as a way to fundraise more. It’s quite hard though, because I’ve been so busy. I did some fundraising in the past, although this was quite minimal. I’ve raised awareness for some charities but done very little fundraising. My fundraising target is £10,000 because I want to give as much as possible to Raleigh – it’s such a good cause. So far I’ve raised about £200 so I’ve got a long way to go!

Then I came up with a new idea. To some ears it might sound like a crazy idea, something you would never think of straight away. Yes, I’m going to cycle all the way to South Korea!

In the space of a month I was made redundant, split up with my girlfriend and had to move out of my flat. I thought ‘I’m a free man’ so I should go for it! The idea spiralled out of control. Originally I was planning to go to Mongolia with some friends but now that’s not worked out so I’m heading to South Korea where I plan to teach secondary school children English before I start Raleigh.

So this is my plan: I will start my journey in April 2011 and it will take me 12 months to get to South Korea. I plan to travel through France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, South East Asia, Nepal and China (where I’m hoping to meet up with Raleigh China) before settling in South Korea. This may of course change depending on visas and other entry requirements. I’ve been advised not to plan too far ahead but just to take one day at a time. I’ve bought all the kit (25kg) that I need but to be honest I have done very little training. I’m not planning on setting a world record!

During my journey I’ll be doing some couch surfing. I’ve got a few friends enroute, mainly in Europe, that I’ll be calling on. I will also be carrying some camping equipment with me too.

Since I will be leaving quite soon I have planned to work as much as I can and basically save money. I want to do as much fundraising as possible before I leave, however I will continue the fundraising whilst on my journey. During my last days in country I will say goodbye to my family and friends. There’s a lot to organise! I will keep everyone up to date by sending regular emails and keeping in touch with Raleigh all along the way. I will probably send out some nice videos of my cycle journey as well!

Looking back at the moment when I heard I was accepted as a volunteer manager up until now, I can tell you that I’m already having an amazing time. For everyone out there that is struggling with fundraising: just go for it! Ignore the fact that you are asking for money. If it’s a cause that you believe in, then people will be happy to donate. You can make things happen.

If you’d like to know more, follow my blog, donate (any donations are more than appreciated!) or just want to visit my fundraising page go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/seoulsearchin/