Four Kenyans who cycled to Mecca to raise funds for the completion of Al Furqan towers in Namanga and sponsor needy children were welcomed back in the country on Sunday at Sir Ali Club on Park Road in Nairobi.
Mohammed Zahir, Osman Idrissa, Mohammed Salim and Anwar Mansur, who undertook the “Pedal to Hajj” journey, were glad to be back in the country and to share their experience.
Led by Mr Zahir, the team raised a total of Sh3.9 million, with their target when starting the 35-day journey being Sh5million.
“So far we have collected about Sh3.9 million, but we have not yet reached our main target. We have a short fall of about Sh1.1 million,” said Mr Zahir.
Mr Salim said that they had a difficult but adventurous experience. "Teamwork was our main strength. We all come from different backgrounds but were able to survive together as a team," he said.
Muslims always travel once a year to the holy city in Saudi Arabia to pray during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. It is every Muslim’s dream to make at least one journey to Mecca.
The “Pedal to Hajj” journey has also shown that travelling by road at a reasonable price is possible.
This is in comparison to the prohibitive air transport with tickets being beyond the reach of a majority of Muslims.
"We were trying to do something unique and show others that you can make it to the holy city without taking a flight. We had to make a lot of sacrifices, though. It is all about physical, psychological, social, financial and emotional preparedness. We trained for one year because we knew it wouldn’t be an easy journey," said Mr Salim.
He told Nation that the team was able to cover a total of 3,500km. It took them 35 days to complete the journey covering 100km each day. They had 10 days of resting.
The four cycled from Nairobi to Sudan through Ethiopia and arrived at Madina on August 18.
They crossed the Red Sea via boat entering the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from Sudan, a distance of about 334km.
The cyclists, who took time to update their followers on social media, were able to join the rest of the pilgrims on August 23.
"One challenge we encountered was language barrier. It taught us that people should learn foreign languages so as to take advantage of trade and other opportunities," he added.
They travelled back to Kenya in the morning of August 27 through the Moyale border point.
A ceremony was held to welcome them back, during which former Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow awarded them with trophies.
A well-wisher offered to buy a cake at Sh100,000 during an auction, with the proceeds going towards charity.
"We are now thinking of working on another project to raise the remaining money. We are urging members of the public to lend a helping hand where they can," said Mr Zahir.
“Pedal to Hajj” head of media Nabil Munawer, who accompanied the cyclists, lauded the achievement as historic.
“What our brothers have achieved is a foundation for the future. They have truly made history as Muslims from Kenya and have made our country proud,” he said.
Mr Munawer added that the trip has been a great experience as they got to learn other peoples’ cultures.
The team urged the youth to embrace cycling as part of healthy living and for social networking.
They noted that cycling will also eradicate idleness, which made them engage in drug abuse and criminal activities.