Journey Reports

Germany   March 8th 2016, Bonn, Germany


[Click here for the original article published in German]

English translation:

„Anything is possible“

On the 10th of April, Ernest Roig Campi and Jakob Steinkuhl will head towards what might just be the biggest adventures of their lives – a 15 months long biking trip from Germany all the way to Vietnam. The starting point of their 15.000 km journey will be the monumental Cologne Cathedral. On their way to the other end of the world, the two trained nurses will visit several Don Bosco facilities. We spoke to them about ambition, equality of opportunities and a long awaited dream.

Question: You will spend 15 month on your bikes to raise money for Don Bosco Straßenkinder and visit Don Bosco facilities. Where did the idea come from?

Jakob: It has always been my dream to travel around the world. Originally, I wanted to cycle from Cologne to South Africa. When I met Ernest during my job training as a male nurse, I told him about my plan and he was instantly enthusiastic about the idea. But the difficult situation in Africa, the rising of terrorist groups like Boko Haram, as well as the spreading of the Ebola Epidemic, lead us to change the route to Vietnam instead.

Question: What is your connection to the Salesians of Don Bosco?

Jakob: After I finished high school, I spent one year as a volunteer in East-Timor, a state in Southeast Asia, where I worked with the Salesians of Don Bosco on a project supporting and educating orphans. I took care of the children and taught classes on religion and sports. During this time I found my true calling - to go into medicine. I became a trained nurse and decided to become a doctor afterwards. This biking trip is my way of saying thanks to the Salesians.

Ernest: I heard of the Don Bosco family from Jakob. He told me a lot about his time as a Don Bosco volunteer in East Timor. His enthusiasm was infectious. I immediately liked the idea of supporting the work of Don Bosco with our trip, because the Salesians do great work all over the world.


Foto: Ernest Roig Campi (right) and Jakob Steinkuhl (left) presented their fundraising project at this year’s Don Bosco Forum.

Question: Which Salesian facilities are you going to visit during your trip?

Ernest: We are going to visit three projects: Our first stop will be at the Don Bosco home for refugees in Istanbul. The next stop will be in Kathmandu, Nepal, where the situation is still difficult one year after the earthquake. We really like to help the people in Nepal where we can. The third and last stop will be in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, where the Salesians run a hotel school for disadvantaged children and teenagers.

Question: The Salesians of Don Bosco primarily help children and young people at risk. Is that one of the reasons you decided to support the Salesians?

Jakob: Both of us grew up in stable homes in Europe. We benefitted from a good education and are able to work in jobs we choose for ourselves. All this is just given to us. We wish that all children and young people worldwide have the same chances to enjoy a self-determined life.

Question: Your journey will take you across the Alps to Croatia, Greece and Turkey. From there you will follow the coastline of the Black Sea to Georgia and then pedal to Turkmenistan and China, followed by India and Nepal, until you reach your destination: Vietnam. How did you prepare for this journey?

Ernest: We decided to go on this trip about two and a half years ago. Through working side-jobs, by taking care of the elderly and sick, we were able to save up some money. But the real preparations started six months ago. We set up the website, gathered information about the visa formalities for each country, bought equipment and looked for sponsors.

Question: Will you collect donations for every kilometer you bike?

Jakob: There are different ways in which we are supporting the Salesians of Don Bosco. For one, we want to make the name Don Bosco more popular through facebook, twitter and our website. Many of my friends haven’t even heard of Don Bosco before I told them about our plans. Furthermore, we embedded a button on our website, through which people can directly donate for the work of the Salesians of Don Bosco. Thus, the donations don’t go through us, but directly to Don Bosco.

Question: What will be the biggest challenge for you on this journey?

Ernest: There are two big challenges: For one, the physical challenge. It is vital to be in good shape for a journey like this. We will be biking through the Alps one month from now. This is the first stage, in where we get to test our boundaries. Another great challenge is a psychological one. Once you’ve reached your limit – physically and psychologically – you get frustrated. The challenge is to overcome these low points and help each other.

If you look 15 months ahead: Will you still be committed to support Don Bosco?

Jakob: Yes, I am sure I will be. My family has been donating to support Don Bosco for years now. I will continue this within my means as a student. Furthermore, as a former volunteer, I am a part of the Don Bosco family. We regularly organize get-togethers. Once a member of the Don Bosco family - always a member of the Don Bosco family.

Ernest: The start of the journey will simultaneously be the end of my life in Germany. I am leaving my apartment and my job behind. My future is completely open. I have always dreamed of working as a nurse in a developing country. Maybe new perspectives come up during this journey, for example in one of the Don Bosco homes. This journey is very important to me personally: It might be the stepping-stone for my future. Anything is possible.

The interview was conducted by Lena Kretschmann,

{Translation from German to English: Don Bosco Mission}

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