A team of 26 cycling volunteers from six East African community member countries are on a 45-day cycling tour campaigning to raise more public awareness about the East African integration.
Dubbed, ‘East African Community Bicycle Tour’, the non-competitive cycling race was for the second time organised under the ‘Campfire Logs Guild’, an initiative that brings together different East African youth communities mainly to create Unity, Peace and togetherness to strengthen the awareness of the EAC integration among member countries’ communities through cycling.
John Bosco Balongo, the Tour Team Leader, said the tour has helped the team members experience the current image of EAC country members’ cooperation and took an opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of the community’s cooperation.
“We have been able to ride together, struggle together and chill together to signal that the community members can share successes, risks and opportunities towards the same destiny by building a perfect regional integration, all through our cycling shared passion, we expect more youth to join us since the tour is free and open to all,” he said.
Seraphine Flavia, the Acting Director General, Coordination of East African Community Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, praised the team’s spirit in raising awareness of the regional integration among the member countries.
“Our country is behind this encouraging and inspiring initiative and we will push for advocacy in different EAC forums to get it supported,” she said.
The team is comprised of 21 males and five females, including three Kenyans, a Burundian, a South Sudanese, a Tanzanian, 10 Ugandans and three from Rwanda.
Desire Hatari, a team member from Rwanda, who benefited from the government’s kidney transplant support in India, said he is proud to represent his country at the initiative in joining efforts with East African youth to build a strong community in the region.
“I had the chance to learn a variety of cultures and hospitality in the region, with the focus to represent my country towards a well-organised, united and committed regional community,” he said, while his fellow Ugandan disabled rider Tebandeke said his disability cannot stop him from making a contribution towards the success of the regional integration through this initiative.
The volunteering team which is now in Rwanda, started the journey on August 1, have traveled almost through East African community member states, namely Burundi, South Sudan, Kenya and Tanzania and are concluding the tour on September 15 in Kampala, Uganda, having covered a total of 5,600 kilometres.
However, they said all expenses are being covered from their own pockets yet the initiative is targeting EAC’s common interests in building one people.
Before they kick-started the tour, they collected about 85 million Ugandan Shillings to be spent on the entire tour, but have failed to get any formal support from any EAC country member state.