Adventurous cousins Hitesh Pankhania and Vivek Jadav are giving up the comforts of home for a year of cycling and camping as they travel 14,000miles across the world – from Indonesia to the UK.
They are raising money for CLIC Sargent after the children and young people’s cancer charity supported Hitesh and his family when his younger sister Seema was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Hitesh, 22, has just graduated from Warwick University with a degree in politics, philosophy and economics while Vivek, 27, is taking a sabbatical from his job as a maths teacher at Acton High School.
The pair will set off on their adventure in September, carrying with them just the bare essentials but bags of determination.
Hitesh, from Langley, Berkshire, said: “We have a loose plan of what we’ll be doing but will have to play it by ear when it comes to the best places to go. There are political situations that mean we can’t be completely concrete about the exact route while visas are also more difficult to obtain in some places.
“I’m looking forward to seeing areas of central Asia that not many people visit and just learning how to survive in such different places. We live quite cushy lives here. We’ve both travelled and camped before but this will be completely different. I’m not sure it’s completely dawned on our friends and family that we’re actually going to be gone for a year.”
Hitesh and Vivek are hoping to raise £10,000 for CLIC Sargent, which provided practical and emotional support for Hitesh’s family when Seema was diagnosed with cancer four years ago, aged 12.
Hitesh said: “They were turbulent times and there were certain moments which were particularly difficult. Losing her hair was a big moment, as it would be for a 12-year-old girl. Usually when you’re ill it’s a physical thing and you just wait to get better. With cancer it affects all aspects of your life and everyone around you. It all takes its toll.
“Childhood cancer is quite rare so when it happens you have so many questions and you’re not sure who to ask. Basic things like where we should go, what happens next, what happens about school. CLIC Sargent was there to help answer all these questions. CLIC Sargent is the only charity we’ve been involved with as a family and I wanted to do something for them, to give something back. We are funding the trip ourselves so all the money we raise will go to charity.”
Seema is now in remission but still attends yearly check-ups to ensure the cancer has not returned.
Maths teacher Vivek, 27, who lives in Ealing, said he was inspired to take on a worldwide challenge after reading about a man who cycled from the UK to Australia.
He said: “My aim when travelling is to experience something nobody I know has, and there are few places left in the world that aren't huge tourist attractions. Central Asia still remains a relatively little travelled region. What I'm least looking forward to (aside from sharing a tent with Hitesh) is cycling through difficult terrain and weather. Climbing a hill in the pouring rain is not my idea of fun!
“Everyone has been so incredibly supportive and excited for me. My colleagues are pretty sad to see me go, as are my pupils. To be fair, I'm just as sad to be leaving them - but knowing I'll be returning after a year is pretty exciting too.”
“I've had to really change my diet and ensure that I exercise more regularly. Work life had made me pretty lazy and whilst I always enjoyed sports, I was never keen on exercise in general. But having a bike to be proud of and a goal has helped motivate me to make sure I'm in good enough shape and hit targets.”
To find out more about Hitesh and Vivek’s challenge visit their World on Wheels website.
If you’ve been inspired by Hitesh and Vivek to take part in a challenge for CLIC Sargent and would like to find out more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org phone 0845 124 1188.