"A story that brings hope"
Their mission: Raise money for Syrian refugee children in Lebanese refugee camps. But not just that. "We also wanted to bring an experiment onto the streets and say to people: it works, Christians and Muslims together," said Björn Potulski. Three members of the team are from Syria and are themselves refugees. One of them contacted the organisers as soon as he heard about the project. In his native Syria he was an active cyclist. The three Germans in the team are colleagues and work at Munich Airport, which has supported the project from the beginning. The other two Syrians were introduced to the project by a German-Syrian cultural organisation. The intensive training for the tour has made a team out of Carolyn, Björn, Essam, Khaled, Mohammad and Jochen. "I was the drill sergeant", says Björn Potulski laughing. And eventually everybody became very ambitious. "When you're putting in so much effort, you want to see that something will come of it."
Even before the start of the tour, the project received a lot of attention and support, which continued when it got on the road. Many people followed the journey on Facebook and encouraged the team to go on. With the mika tracking app it was possible to follow the team's progress live. The cyclists themselves also used the app when the field stretched out or the escort vehicle wanted to see who was in which position.
On the May 30th the troupe set off from Munich. The route was split over a total of 11 stages via Pfunds in Austria to Oggiono and then Susa in Italy, and from there via Séderon, Sète and Prades in France to Balaguer in Spain. The last stops were Aliaga, Viallgordo del Cabriel and Villaneuva de Arobisbo, before finally reaching Granada. The team chose Granada as their destination because it is regarded as a symbol of constructive collaboration between Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
2,300 kilometres, an overall climb of 20,000 metres, and a final 50,000 Euros donation. The money was donated to Orienthelfer, an aid organisation which uses donations to help fund schools in Lebanese refugee camps. Thanks to Orienthelfer, 700 Syrian children have the opportunity to go to school every day.
Now, Björn gives talks where he describes his motivation for setting up the project as well as his experiences of it. His story is well received. "It's an unusual take on a topical issue in conjunction with a travel story," he says. "It's a story that brings hope".
If you would like to request a lecture, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. More information as well as pictures and videos of the project are available on the project website at https://www.facebook.com/RoadToGranada/.