Lucien Williams of Goodwood, Cape Town, is lacing up his boots for what he considers the biggest challenge of his life: walking 600 kilometres to raise funds for his wife’s studies so that she can graduate at the end of the year and pursue her dream of becoming a teacher.
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Williams, 39, told News24 that the idea struck him one morning as he prepared to go to his local gym.
“Like many families, we’ve had our fair share of hardships since the pandemic hit. My wife became one of the statistics of people who lost their job in the first few months. She was studying at the time, so it was a huge challenge to adjust to life with only me working and also having two kids to raise,” Lucien told News24.
Washiela was pursuing her Bachelor of Education degree at the University of South Africa (Unisa). For the first two years of her studies, she received a National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursary.
However, she was not funded in 2021, and like most students, she incurred student debt, which she must now repay before she can graduate. Washiela and her husband have spent many sleepless nights worrying about how they will pay off the debt that has accumulated during her final years of studies.
Lucien will begin his journey at the Cape Town Stadium and hopes to finish in George within 10 days. He has decided to walk 60 kilometres each day of his journey, stopping at different locations for the night.
Lucien’s daily routine begins at 5am at the gym, where he trains to prepare for the long and winding walk.
He will travel alone, and members of various church congregations have agreed to let him stay with them overnight.
“Through my church, I’ve started to contact congregations from areas like Struisbaai and Gansbaai in order to stay over at congregants’ homes because a lot of this is coming out of my pocket and I can’t afford to pay for hotels or backpackers’ lodges,” Lucien told News24.
The couple expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support from friends and family since learning of the plan, and they hope it will continue until Lucien returns home safely.
Lucien admitted to News24 that he is nervous, and his wife is concerned about his vulnerability to potential danger along the way.
“Some people said I was crazy to do this, but when you stare hardship in the face and have no other option, you tackle the obstacles head-on; you’d do anything to make your family happy,” he said.
He has been documenting his journey on social media and will provide an update to his followers at the end of the journey.
Lucien will raise funds by having donors sponsor him per kilometre. Anyone interested in donating can do so through their Backabuddy fundraiser.