Jolandie Rust is relying on a compelling cause and the kindness of strangers to accomplish something no woman has ever done.
The South African native wants to be the first woman to go around Africa, visiting all of the continent's 34 coastal countries by bicycle. Along the way, Rust is acting as the ambassador for Iduka, a group raising funds for education in Africa.
"A lot of these kids don't get the opportunity to attend the university of their choice," Rust said. "I would love to see an Africa where everybody has equal opportunity to get post-secondary education. That's the only way forward. It has such an importance."
Rust began her trip with no funding. She gets small amounts of cash from people she meets along her journey.
"It's pretty much a case of people hearing about what I'm doing and they say, 'I'll give you $100' or whatever," Rust said. "That will see me through a couple days, or pay for a visa. It's the general public that I'm counting on."
Rust admits her goal is made much tougher without funding, but it's an obstacle she's anxious to tackle: "It makes it an even bigger challenge, but I love challenges. It's teaching myself to get by without any money."
Iduka's mission, according to its site, is to make college affordable by connecting students with donors, schools and community service organizations through an Internet-based micro-loan program.
The nonprofit strives to provide students and their families with one more financial tool to help pursue higher education. Whenever possible, Iduka strives to let students pay back their loans by volunteering.
The organization's goal is to become the world's first person-to-person web-based program exclusively devoted to providing student micro-loans to all local, national and international students in need of additional financial aid.
In every country she visits, Rust will deliver an open letter to the government, asking them to look at promoting post-secondary education. As funding permits, Iduka will give out local scholarships to students and Rust is encouraging local volunteers to get involved in teaching students.
While Rust faces clear financial obstacles, she said there are unusual perils involved in her quest as well.
"There are many dangers," Rust said. "There are wildlife encounters, unstable countries or I could end up in a bad area. There's a lot to consider, but you get street smarts when you're traveling on your own."
Still, Rust said she's undeterred and motivated by the desire to promote education on her home continent.
"We all know Africa needs aid, but education-wise, it gives children an awareness of what is possible," Rust said. "It's an opportunity to teach them about the world and to show them how to follow their dreams to pursue whatever profession they want to."
To contribute to Rust's cause, click here to visit Iduka.
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