Tale of a man on a mission to ride around the globe for the less fortunate

Wissam Al-Jayyoussi, a Jordanian of Palestinian heritage based in Dubai, is a man who set the goal to tour the world on his motorbike in order to make his cause known and shed light and dime on it. He began his goodwill journey a few years ago and has now accomplished his second trip along the famous Silk Road. His aim is to raise awareness about the sufferings and hardships the children and women in Palestine endure on a daily basis and to raise funds to support and assist them by teaming up with charitable organizations (NGOs) and carrying this message as far as he rides. “To spread the message is the best part.” he says. For his first journey he rode across the Middle East and Europe. “It was an easy ride” as Wissam puts it, compared to his second journey that took him across the rough and rugged roads of Asia, following the ancient Silk Road trade route. “To combine adventure and charity” is Wissam’s passion. In order to fulfill his passion and devote enough time for his epic journeys, Wissam had to make adjustments to his life. He quit his job a few years ago in order to start his own IT company so he could better manage his time and provide means to fund his journeys, since Wissam finances all the cost of his trips and funds raised through donation and sponsorships go solely to the charities he is supporting.

Prelude to the journey: The Mount Pumori Initiative It all begun in 2008, when Wissam climbed Mount Pumori in the Himalayas for the education of Palestinian woman. For every meter climbed, one dollar was raised. The mountain was 7600m tall, the climb took 40 days and he succeeded in securing funds to cover the higher education of 14 young Palestinian girls. However, Wissam felt “that was not enough” and that he needed more outreach. His initiative didn’t have a broad echo as being in the mountain he felt limited and couldn’t draw a global attention to his cause. That is when he realized that he needed to go big, that he needed to move around to create a greater global awareness. Being an avid bike rider for 14 years, he opted to ride around the globe carrying with him the message of the less fortunate and making their voices heard and their plight known. So he decided to establish his own charitable organization: “The Goodwill Journey” thru which he teams up with “an NGO that has a project but doesn’t have the funds for it” says Wissam. “It just has to be an NGO that does not have any religious or political connections”, he emphasizes. He then takes on the task to fundraise for the project by going on epic journeys. The first Journey: From Dubai to London In 2010, Wissam, accompanied by “Marmara”, his Harley Davidson “named after the Avi Marmara massacre”, set off on his first major journey in which he rode a total of 40,000km from Dubai to London crossing 36 countries across the Middle East and Europe. The trip took 60 days to complete and help raise funds for the education of children with special needs in Gaza/Palestine. It was a collaboration with Hope and Play, a British charity organization. He managed to raise $120,000 dollars.

The second journey: From Dubai to Singapore This year, Wissam teamed up with the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) to support the building of a Pediatric Oncology Center at Al Hussain Hospital at Beit Jala, Palestine. “Hundreds of children are diagnosed with cancer in Palestine and because of the sociopolitical situation and the siege in Gaza, many children do not have direct access to the required medical care they need and more so in the West Bank.” Says Wissam.

Wissam knew that this trip was going to be different and harder than the first trip, for instance the roads he travelled in Europe were paved, however he was not sure what to expect in Asia or if there were roads at al as indicated on the map. Little did he know how much he had underestimated the challenges, even the paperwork and bureaucracy played a major role in shaping the trip. He started planning for this trip a year in advance, took training courses in off road riding (because he suspected the roads would be bumpy and unpaved), he extensively researched and carefully selected the bike best suited for the terrain. However his biggest challenge was getting the entry visas for the countries on his route on time. He got rejected

many times. “With every rejection, my determination grew” says Wissam. Finally, in May 2012, Wissam hits the road with the company of “Assil”, his BMW R1200 multi-purpose bike, “named after the little girl who got shot by an Israeli sniper and died two weeks before she was to travel for treatment.” During this trip, Wissam experienced some extremely difficult situations that could have broken his will but the man-on-a- mission never thought of quitting. “There is no turning back”, “it is about commitment” Wissam stresses. “I have seen it all in this trip: I was jailed, I went on a hunger strike, I got my ribs broken, I rode thru non-stop rain for 30 days, I rode in heat at 50C degrees, I rode in snow under -10C degree, I rode in mud, in gravel, I have seen poverty at its extreme, I traveled roads that were in no maps, I was denied entry at the borders with my visas in hand, I survived” recollects Wissam about his last trip. When asked about his most desperate moment, he acknowledged that Gobi desert in Mongolia took a toll on him.

His scariest moment was in Baluchistan and Afghanistan as it rose big concerns for his security. He even crossed the historic Khyber Pass, the mountain pass between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The most difficult leg of his trip was India as he was interrogated for 8 hours, his satellite phone was confiscated and he had several accidents because of the congested roads that he shared with, among other bikes, “cows, tuk-tuks, trucks, cars, pedestrians, you name it”, says Wissam. The saddest part of the journey was witnessing raw poverty, the happiest moment, of course, was when he crossed to Singapore and could proudly proclaim: “Mission Accomplished!” after riding for 145 days thru 21 countries over 52,000km, raising about $200,000 dollars for his charity. “These trips change you”, says Wissam. “You realize how blessed you are”, “how important is family”, and “The friends and friendships you create are for life”, concludes Wissam. Talking about his future plans in spreading the plight of the less fortunate, Wissam explains: “For my next trip, I am planning to ride from Dubai to Alaska going across Latin America, USA and Canada. Another trip will also be planned afterwards to cover Africa.” The next journey is planned for 2014. Wissam’s heroic take on charity left me pondering: The road to charity could be a journey away, but it all starts with a small step, that could be as simple as a click on a link. Donations to support Wissam’s charities can be made online at: goodwilljourney.org

What? Goodwill journey to Europe Goodwill journey to Asia

When?

How long?

How far?

How many countries?

How much money is raised?

2010 2012

60 days 145 days

40.000 km 52.000 km

36 21

120.000 $ 200.000$