Driving a dilapidated rust-bucket from Prague to Siberia, two Wanaka adventurers are part of a group of young Kiwis who will face mud, mountains and desert – all for charity.
Calling themselves the “Dusty Kiwis”, Dylan O’Neill and Megan Taylor, of Wanaka, and Ralph Gallyer and Woody Bradley, of Taranaki, will take part in the Mongol Rally in July.
The trip will encompass 21 countries, including Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Mongolia.
Mr O’Neill said as well as raising funds for two charities, the trip would be a chance to see other people’s way of life.
“To understand, you have to put yourselves in their shoes and their environment, to see their conditions, what they have and don’t have.
“For us we are seeing it as a way to explore the world and break down perceptions of other cultures.”
The rules of the rally were that teams had to use a “farcically small vehicle of one litre or less” and raise at least $1900).
“We choose our route and will have to work it out if things go wrong,” Mr O’Neill said.
With ages from 19 to 25, the young adventurers would face cultural challenges and learn the realities of countries where people had a lot less than most New Zealanders, Mr O’Neill said.
“We are seeing this as a way to get out there and explore the world, but at the same time break down preconceptions about other cultures, especially the Middle East.
“It’s a challenge for us to meet these people and try to understand their way of life.”
The travellers had chosen to raise funds for the Mental Health Foundation because they had personal experiences of the effects of mental illness.
“We know a couple of people who have committed suicide,” Mr O’Neill said.
” The taboos around the subject still need to be broken down, so that our friends, family, and greater communities are not afraid to reach out for help.
“We believe that there are so many people out there suffering with a mental health issue that have the potential to do great things, but struggle to do so because they need to ask for help first.”
A second charity chosen by the Mongol Rally was Cool Earth, an environmental charity that worked in partnership with indigenous communities to protect rainforest that would otherwise be destroyed.
Fundraising officer Elizabeth Smith said each year the Mongol Rally raised about Cool Earth.
“Together the teams protect over 1600 acres of rainforest on the frontline of deforestation, locking in 400,000 tonnes of COthat would have otherwise been released into the atmosphere,” she said.
“Last year a British team raised the most money. Let’s see if a Kiwi team will be Cool Earth’s fundraising champions this year.”
The journey would take eight weeks and they would travel more than 20,000km, Mr O’Neill said.
To follow their story, search for @thedustykiwis2018.
Lifeline: 0800 543-354 or (09)522-2999
Suicide Prevention Helpline: 508 828-865 (0508TAUTOKO)
Youthline: 0800 376-633 or free text 234
Samaritans: 0800 726-666