Wheels of Change: 2 Naga youth set for 3rd Cycling Expedition
KOHIMA, NOVEMBER 2
What started out as a hobby for two young Naga boys has ultimately developed into a dream project, to make Nagaland an environment-friendly place. Sievituo Solo and Ruokuo Kire from Kohima village are all set to embark on their third cycling expedition this November as ambassadors of green and healthy environment, under the banner ‘Cycling for Sustainable World: Wheels of Change’. They will be attempting to pedal their bicycles across at least seven South East Asian countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and China, covering about 7000 kilometres.
In an exclusive conversation with Eastern Mirror, the two young cyclists expressed their enthusiasm and excitement over the opportunity to merge their dreams, cycling for a green cause and at the same time fulfilling their spirit of adventure. On why they chose South East Asia for their third expedition, Sievituo responded, “It’s like a progressive level. We began from our home ground then to India, and now we want to look East. We can learn so much from our neighbouring nations.”
They say they are looking forward to build connections and bring back an international platform to Nagaland to build a cleaner and a better environment. “We want to come back and do things practically that can motivate and inspire our people,” Sievituo adds. They believe that working together for a better environment must be the chief concern for all.
For them, plants and trees do not generally make the environment greener, and it is factors like a hygienic surrounding, a healthy diet and eco-friendly transportation which also make it to the list of green environment. They pointed out that cycling has many benefits including that it is eco-friendly and help people stay fit, and they want to use this to create awareness on environmental issues.
They aim to use this tour as a platform to exchange ideas with the people they come across, stating this is a new vista that not only sees beyond unknown lands but provides hope for dreamers who are game to come out of their comfort zones.
Following their second cycling expedition, Sievituo and Ruokuo realized that there was so much to learn and do to for a healthy environment and they went on to form Recycling Initiative, a non-profit organization which was officially recognized earlier this year. They said the organization, with its slogan ‘Green is Change’, aims to promote the importance of recycling and to raise awareness on natural environment, global warming and create user-friendly navigation for healthy living and linkages. Parallel with that, Recycling Initiative also endorses cycling as a pollution-free means of transportation and seeks to inspire youngsters to take this up for promotion of healthy lifestyle and cleaner environment, they added.
Interestingly, it was learnt that Sievituo quit a government job to work full time pushing the organization forward. Since then, Recycling Initiative has been visiting several educational institutions in the state capital sharing experiences and trying to motivate them to build a responsible civic sense with a basic catchphrase ‘Pick More, Throw None’.
“When you have a passion and a dream, you can use that to contribute to the society,” says Ruokuo, who works with the state medical department. They feel that the experiences of each day are like a reward – the struggles along the way, the odds and evens, the people they meet, the places they cross, the different food that they get to eat, etc.
They both expressed gratefulness for having families who are supportive of their venture saying, “They have always been so supportive even when we do crazy things chasing our dreams.”
Many young people in Nagaland are by now familiar with Sievituo and Ruokuo’s names. Starting their first expedition ‘Discover Nagaland on a Bicycle’ in 2011, the young cyclists pedalled their way across the 11 districts of the state covering a distance of about 1400 kms in 31 days on their bicycles. They gradually put together their love for adventure, cycling and a shared concern for the depleting environment and decided to ride beyond the mountains of Nagaland in 2013 to campaign for a healthy environment. In their second expedition ‘Re-Cycling for Greener Environment’, they cycled a distance of 4000 kms in 39 days from Kohima to New Delhi via Bhutan, into the Indo-Bangladesh territory and Nepal, conveying their goodwill message of conserving the environment to the people they came across. Curious about their mission, people invited the cyclist duo to share their message at schools, health centres and even on the roadsides.
Reminiscing the experience, they said they their experience has been very humbling and the people have been very generous to them all the way. But when it comes to hospitality, they feel Nagas are second to none.
The third Cycling Expedition is being supported by the state government under the patronage of Commissioner & Secretary DUDA, Abei-o L Kire. The cyclist duo said while they are fortunate that many people have shown interest and support in their venture, there are two personalities who were really instrumental in pushing them to make the third expedition dream materialize – Commissioner & Secretary YRS, Menokhol John and Additional Secretary H&FW, Kesonyü Yhome. They also acknowledged all those who had stood by them right from their first expedition including MP Lok Sabha Neiphiu Rio, minister for Forests & Environment Dr. Neikesalie Nicky Kire, Nagaland Adventure & Motor Sports Association, Nagaland Adventure Club, their mentors Richard Belho and Rena Ezung, Beizo Kiso, Dr. Koubunuo and the Recycling Initiative team.