Teacher Catherine Howett and environmentalist Liz Darley from
Tooting rode from Turkey through Iran, India, Tibet and China
before reaching their final destination in Thailand.
The key reason for this gruelling journey was to gather opinions
from young people, by visiting their schools, about why they think
HIV and AIDS continues to devastate lives across the world.
The duo spoke to over 3,000 people about HIV/ AIDS on their
nine-month long trip. All the views collected will be fed into the
'Voices' project, an oral history scheme that uses film clips of
young people which are then shared with schools across the UK to
raise awareness of HIV and AIDS.
The journey has been entirely self-funded, with both women leaving
Commenting on her reasons behind the trip, Howett, 33, said: "I
figured that if young people could see that talking about this
disease was important enough for us to give up our jobs and lives
and get on our bikes, it might be another small piece of the jigsaw
that will help them to make the healthy choices.
Darley, 30, added: "Despite it being possible to treat HIV
effectively, we have seen first hand that so many people continue
to have their lives destroyed because of the impact of revealing
their status. And so we both felt moved to speak out and be
positive about HIV/AIDS.
"It has been a tough journey but cycling 6,000 miles is far less
challenging than the uphill struggle faced daily by people living
with HIV/AIDS. We have been humbled by the hospitality and kindness
shown to us during our trip. Through speaking to children and
adults across Asia we have found that fear and stigma continue to
obstruct greater progress in tackling HIV and providing help to
those living with the condition. We hope that from our travels, the
collective voices of children and young people from around the
world help break down these barriers for good".
The cycling pair have raised £6,500 so far in sponsorship from the
trip, which will split equally between The Food Chain, a charity
that provides meals and groceries to people living with HIV in
London and the Camillian Centre, one of the leading social
enterprises in Asia accommodating and helping sick orphan children
living with HIV.
For more information about the sponsored ride or to get involved
with the 'Voices' project, see http://onelittlewheel.com/