US born Rajesh Durbal, triple amputee and world’s leading practical inspirational teacher and motivational speaker, recently visited Cape Town to partake in the Argus Cycle Tour, the world’s largest individually timed cycle race. Durbal’s participation in the race formed part of his Live Free foundation’s Freedom Tour to Africa.
The Freedom Tour to Africa initiative is a partnership with Guts 2 Glory, a local non-profit organisation which focuses on the development of disabled athletes from a basic competitive level to Elite International level. Together these two parties formed a group of five disabled and underprivileged athletes and cyclists – all South Africans based in either Cape Town or Johannesburg between the ages of 17 to 37 – to partake in the Freedom Tour to Africa.
Spanning three weeks, the tour included travelling to four cities, donating various care packages, and visiting and inspiring thousands of people along the way. The journey also included climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest free standing mountain in the world at 19,341 feet, and lastly cycling and completing the 2014 Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour on 9 March.
Durbal’s efforts have inspired others to get involved in his cause. Pepperclub Hotel & Spa, five star luxury hotel that served as his base for his team in Cape Town, says it is actively looking to get involved with this initiative for next year’s tour.
Matthew Cornall, GM of Pepperclub Hotel & Spa, says that it was an honour to host such an inspiring individual. “We are looking forward to assisting in expanding the tour in the coming future by assisting with their travel and accommodation requirements. We admire greatly what Rajesh Durbal is doing locally and globally – it is such a strong message. South Africa has a lot of potential when it comes to athletes, and he is an inspiration to those who may not have the funding for prosthetics available.”
Cornall says that it is crucial that South Africa’s tourism industry caters for people with disabilities. Unfortunately, many establishments, in their efforts to create an aesthetically pleasing environment, do so without taking into consideration the effect this could have on guests with disabilities.
“The staff and facilities of the Pepperclub Hotel and Spa are geared towards catering for disabled guests. Our staff are well trained to meet their needs and the set-up of the hotel ensures accessibility for the physically disabled. For example, there are rooms at the hotel that are specifically appointed to facilitate disabled guests.”
Durbal says that the aim of the Freedom Tour to Africa is to unite with various organisations and people to bring the message of hope, inspiration and encouragement and prove that overcoming life’s difficult circumstances is possible. “Usually the focus is on me when I tour and attend events on behalf of the foundation, but this time I wanted to include local and amputees from Africa.
“I chose to include these participants as by including them on the journey they can be ambassadors on my behalf and assist in driving the message after I leave the country,” says Durbal.
He explains that the Live Free foundation mission is to help as many people that are lost and suffering, and have no hope in life. “In 2009, I didn’t know who I was or what my purpose was – I didn’t have any hope for life. At this stage I set myself a goal to complete a 5km race. Despite coming last, I decided to then enter the Iron Man triathlon in Hawaii. From that moment on I haven’t stopped setting myself goals.
In 2010, Durbal became the first amputee to complete the Iron Man challenge – finishing in 14 hours 19 minutes and 12 seconds.
He hopes to eventually include more local amputees and expand the initiative in South Africa. He also plans to partake in the Olympics in 2016. “Everything is unfolding very quickly and it is all because of the big dreams that the foundation possess,” says Durbal.