On March 1, Wissam Jayyoussi left Dubai on a KTM 1190 Adventure R motorbike to ride around the world raising money for underprivileged children in the Middle East
When Wissam Al Jayyousi came off his KTM 1190 Adventure R motorcycle in an icy river in the Gobi desert in Mongolia – flooding his two-wheeler and nearly losing his pannier in the process – he almost pulled the plug on the 120,000km journey that he is doing for charity.
In a Facebook status that he posted on April 23, he said: “When I stepped out of the river was the point when I said, ‘I want to go home’. It has been a few days with no sleep, and very little food, and extremely cold during the night, all this got me very tired and frustrated and with this on top I actually thought of raising the white flag. It took me a minute to get this out of my head and start thinking straight.”
Wissam – a Jordanian of Palestinian origin – is on a modern-day adventure, riding a motorbike across the world as part of the Goodwill Journey initiative in an attempt to raise $2.5 million “for hundreds of thousands of sick and underprivileged children in the Middle East,” he says.
Partnering with the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) for this trip, the intrepid explorer hopes to “cross 100 countries in 20 months to raise funds to build children’s hospitals and for medical missions across the entire region”.
So what made this Dubai-based entrepreneur – who started his journey on March 1 – temporarily take time out of his IT consultancy business to focus on riding through some of the world’s roughest terrain for charity?
“A few years ago a Middle Eastern father called me,” he begins. “He told me that his daughter got straight As in high school but he didn’t have enough money to put her through college. He said: ‘I wish she’d failed because I wouldn’t feel so guilty not being able to afford university’. So, in 2009, I climbed Mount Pumori in Nepal to raise money for educating women in war zones. It was a success but it didn’t raise enough awareness because it was too isolated from the media. The Goodwill Journey team went back to the drawing board and we decided to do motorcycle trips around the globe instead.”
One of the hardest days was in Pamir, in the mountains of Tajikistan. I had 32 falls that day
Wissam’s first bike trip saw him riding from Dubai to London, raising money to help build a school for kids with special needs. In 2012, he did another trip – this time from Dubai to Singapore – generating cash to build a children’s cancer centre. This trip – starting and ending in Dubai and crossing six continents – is his third two-wheeler charity expedition.
While Wissam’s trek is certainly inspiring, he admits it doesn’t always feel that way to him.
“One of the hardest days was in Pamir, in the mountains of Tajikistan,” he says. “I had to ride through the snow in temperatures of around –13°C for nine hours at around 90km an hour. I had 32 falls that day.”
Wissam – who is currently financing his trip himself with practical, hands-on help coming from sponsors – says that while the terrain isn’t always easy, the people he’s met along the way have made up for it.
“Everyone has been very supportive and has tried to help in any way they can,” he says. “I’ve had people leave their work to help me repair my bike, and villagers invite me into their homes to offer me food.”
So what gets him through the really tough moments?
“Aside from these inspiring people, thinking about what the children in Palestine and Syria have to go through on a daily basis makes me push myself even harder.”
Follow Wissam’s journey at https://www.facebook.com/GoodwillJourney