Today is a momentous day as the Unogwaja opens its application for the 2016 Challenge. If you know the story of Phil Masterton-Smith and the story of John McInroy and more importantly the way these two stories have overlapped to create the Unogwaja challenge, then you will not need any cajoling from me. If you havent here are 5 reasons to join the 2016 Unogwaja team.
Your Life will change
My involvement with Unogwaja has stretched back to before I was married. Unogwaja has taught me how important it is to follow your heart. I have applied this in my married life and my wife and I have a fantastic life and relationship. I have also been encouraged to change my life and fix my health. This happens because of the people you meet, the acts that completely blow your mind and the kindness of strangers. Unogwaja has changed my life, it will change yours too.
You will see strength of heart like never before
On Unogwaja 2014 there was a moment that underlined how powerful the heart is. There was an individual on the team that should, for all purposes, not have finished the gruelling day 2. She however dug deep, beyond the physical reserves and powered by an unwavering heart pushed on in a display of true guts that you barely see in this life. In 2015 it was an Australian finishing a hill, borrowing my takkies and running back to help his team mates up. The body can do a lot, but the heart can do much more.
You will meet inspirational people
The Unogwaja Light Fund is what you would be raising money for and the current two Lights are Lebone Village in Bloemfontein and Vukasebenze Shelter in Cradock. I have been fortunate enough to meet the two ladies behind these two organisations as a result of my involvement in Unogwaja. Avril and Gussie are two humans that remind you that we are inherently good. This year at Vukasebenze I went through an epiphany of note. Missing home and the warmth and comfort that I work so hard to have, I realised that I have much more than many will have in the whole lives. But we can make a difference and quite honestly, we should be.
You will see the most selfless acts of kindness
This year on the Unogwaja the most remarkable act of kindness emerged from an unlikely source. On one of the evenings the Unogwaja team stopped at the end of the day and loaded bicycles into the cars before heading back to Queenstown for the night.
When the team were loading the bicycles, three of the day bags were removed and put down. These day bags contained things that the cyclists would need on a daily basis as well as some sentimental and valuable items. After an exhausting day on the bicycle, the team left and had accidentally left the bags behind. This was a fact that was only discovered upon arrival at Queens college. The disappointment was inevitable but just accepted that the bags, along with their contents, were gone.
The following morning as the team arrived back at their stop from the previous night, they were greeted by a beaming Zephaniah Papiso, a council worker and pastor from a local township. You see, he had seen the bags with the team and saw them left behind, so he picked them up. He then knew the team would have to come past and so sat at the bus stop, in freezing cold from 6am (The team arrived at 7). It was amazing. Zephaniah reminded us all that people are inherently good.
You will meet the Stoff
Christopher McInroy, aka the Stoff is, alongside my father-in-law, the closest that I have to a father since my own passed away. He has a genuine passion and love for Unogwaja and an even bigger passion and love for his Unogwaja family. He sometimes can be a bit emotional, but the role he fills on the Unogwaja Challenge is immense and one that requires an incredible level of emotional intelligence and character. These are things the Stoff has in abundance. Your life will be better off for meeting him
If you are interested in joining the Unogwaja for 2016, check out the website at http://unogwaja.com and follow Unogwaja on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I promise you that you will not regret it.