Kick scooting for a school
Gil Drori and Bex Band are kick scooting down the West Coast to raise money to build a school in Tanzania. (photo from Gil Drori)
Gil Drori and Bex Band are en route to the Mexican border. They left from Vancouver last month. What’s newsworthy is how and why. They will be making the journey entirely by way of kick scooter – that’s right, not electric scooter, but kick scooter, the glorified skateboard with safety rails, and they will be doing so to raise money for a school in Africa. They are calling their adventure Kicking the States.
“We decided to do a charity challenge like no other that would help raise money to build a school in a poor village in Tanzania. We visited the village and the half-built school last year and saw the reality and hardship that the children are living in,” Drori told the Jewish Independent in an email interview. “It wasn’t easy to see but we wanted to do something positive, which is how the idea for Kicking the States came about.”
The journey is about 2,500 kilometres long and will take the couple three months. It is, as they say, “entirely muscle-powered.” Drori and Bend have had to pack very lightly to fit all their gear into their modified front pannier, so they are carrying just a tent, sleeping bags and a spare change of clothes.
“When we first thought of the idea, it seemed an impossible challenge, which is exactly why we went for it,” Drori told the JI.
Drori was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Zichron Yaakov. He met Bend while traveling in Guatemala. He’d recently finished his army service and Bend, university. Despite having completely different backgrounds, they “instantly clicked.” They now both live in the United Kingdom, where Bend comes from, and call London home, although they still visit Israel regularly. They recently celebrated their third wedding anniversary.
A kick scoot journey of this kind has never been attempted before, so there are no precedents, and Drori and Bend are learning as they go. “It’s a real adventure!” said Drori.
They hope to raise a total of $10,000 along the way, through sponsorships and by delivering free talks at events for which admission is by donation.
Two years ago, Drori and Bend were working regular jobs, Drori in IT and Bend in teaching. They decided to leave the city life to hike the Israel National Trail, having never done anything like it before. It took two months to complete and, from that point, they have been attracted to adventure as a way of exploring and seeing of what they are capable. They now both work as digital nomads, which gives them the flexibility to keep taking on new challenges, like Kicking the States.
“I think the simplicity of traveling with just a bag with everything you need and working your body each day is really appealing,” said Drori.
Before taking on their latest adventure, they did a four-day mini-trip on scooters, which showed them that it was possible.
“We’ve had a tough but great first two weeks on the expedition,” said Drori. “Physically, it has been very demanding and we have been scooting distances of 30 to 50 miles a day [50 to 80 kilometres], so are left achy and tired. Hills also pose a challenge and we have to get off and push the scooters uphill, which is not easy with all our gear attached.”
Most days, Drori and Bend have no idea of where they’ll be sleeping that night. They have been reliant on people offering to host them, as well as staying at campsites and even sleeping in the yards of strangers. “It has been quite tiring sometimes, living with that uncertainty each day,” said Drori, “but we are trying to embrace the excitement that that also brings.”
The two have faced setbacks every day so far, from road blockages, wrong turns, running low on food and fatigue. Drori said focusing on the money they have raised is what gets them through.
“The children we met in Tanzania are living in real hardship and their only hope of escaping is by getting an education,” said Drori. “They are fed two meals a day at the school, learn to read and write, leave with qualifications and, more important than that, confidence in themselves. We believe that every child should have a right to an education no matter what their circumstances, which is why we are so passionate.”
Drori said they have been surprised by the amazing people they have met along the way. “It’s been the absolute highlight,” he said. “Such kind and wonderful people who, despite us being strangers, have hosted us for a night, fed us or made generous donations to the charity. We’ve met people from all walks of life and have heard so many interesting stories. It sounds cliché, but it restores your faith in humanity. People really are good!”
Drori stressed that 100% of the money raised goes directly to the school. “We really hope that people will support us and get behind this cause,” he said.
People can donate at justgiving.com/kickingthestates.
Matthew Gindin is a freelance journalist, writer and lecturer. He is Pacific correspondent for the CJN, writes regularly for the Forward, Tricycle and the Wisdom Daily, and has been published in Sojourners, Religion Dispatches and elsewhere. He can be found on Medium and Twitter.