Usually when a cyclist is surrounded by cops it’s not a good thing. Our experience has come to tell us this, unfortunately. But Furtemba Sherpa is different, and if you dig into his amazing blog you find that although he’s run into plenty of trouble in his travels — he’s been riding around the world since 2003 — Furtemba also has a way with people. It probably has something to do with his temperament, his undaunted enthusiasm, and the fact that he isn’t goal-oriented in a traditional sense.
For example, his blog says he has the goal to pedal through 151 countries by 2020, but he’s not in some kind of race to set some sort of record, even though he probably already has, having toured 88 nations and pedaled 5,665 miles in Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, North America, as well as Central and South America.
Furtemba may or may not meet his goal, but that’s not the point. As he says:
My aim is to challenge our communities and leaders to do as much as they can to create sustainable, environmentally friendly alternatives to many of our current practices especially with transport initiatives.
I have traveled through many countries, including Nepal, and witnessed great pain and sufferings amongst people due to war and oppression – families torn apart by their ideological differences. Insecurities have led people to distrust and lose harmony with each other. Through out my journey, I carry Lord Buddha’s peace flag [from] his birth place in Lumbini, Nepal. I have come to the realization that a healthy environment and a peaceful world are deeply linked to each other – we cannot have one without the other. I remind people I meet that each of us are world citizens transcending borders, gender, race, religion, and that what happens in one part of the world affects the rest of us. I had to overcome many challenges in life including homelessness.
You might argue that he’s presently “homeless,” but we doubt he’d see it that way. He ran away from home at the age of 10 — because he knew that staying put more pressure on his parents to feed him, as well as six siblings. He landed in Kathmandu, only to face “…homelessness, substance abuse, and was a constant prey to those who seek to exploit street kids. I quickly developed the instinct and skills to survive in the bustling city and found work washing dishes in restaurants and odd manual jobs. I also discovered the entrepreneurial side of me, and by my 20s, I owned and ran a successful restaurant and a clothing store.”
Furtemba had a home and a business but when he visited his family he noticed that while his own world was relatively safe, “the village and the glaciers on the mountains [of my parent's home] were disappearing. The river, once mighty, was turning into a mere meandering stream. In the countryside, there was war brewing that pitted siblings against each other and fathers against sons.”
On Christmas Day 2003, Furtemba, questioning the world and what was happening to it, ran away from home again.
But this time, I chose to take my passion for cycling and pedal around the world and promote peace and awareness of the environmental issues facing the earth today. Along my journey, I am glad to meet people who are rebuilding their lives, families and communities after going through conflicts and wars. Their resilience is inspiring and further drives me to spread their message of hope, courage, and peace.
You can tell, by reading his blog, that Furtemba hasn’t approached his self-appointed mission lightly.
The journey has not been easy. I have endured injuries and danger along the route, including road accidents, extreme weather, food poisoning, thirst, hunger, and beatings by bandits. People wonder and ask why I am doing this. My answer is simple, “I must do it for my daughters and for children around the world.” One pedal stroke at a time, I hope my story will inspire people to act in their own way to make a greener Earth. I believe we can find solutions through mutual respect, dialogue and understanding rather than through violence.
And Furtemba’s point, beyond trying to open minds, is also to help raise money for disabled children in Nepal and worldwide. Fittingly, to give them the gift of mobility, not by bikes, but wheelchairs. You can donate via Paypal to the Furtemba Sherpa Foundation.
Oh, yeah, and this shot was taken after Furtemba had his bike nearly stolen in South Africa and the cops helped protect him, and got him out of trouble. Somebody has good karma.