There are few if any who ride as many miles for a worthy cause as Rossland’s Brenda Trenholme.
The retired doctor just completed a 6,000 kilometre cycling trip across South America to fundraise for the Kenya Education Endowment Fund (KEEF), a group she has been supporting for several years.
“KEEF is going to celebrate its 20th anniversary next year,” Trenholme said. “We currently support 133 students in high school and 36 in post-secondary studies.
“Many of our high school and post secondary students have gone on to professional careers in a variety of disciplines. Education has given them the tools and confidence to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty.”
Trenholme will be retelling her journey in a series of presentations in Salmo, Castlegar, Rossland and in Trail, from April 11-14.
In 2016, Trenholme cycled close to 12,000 km, riding the length of Africa from Cairo to Capetown, to raise funds for KEEF.
Two years later, she embarked on an epic five-month, 13,000 km journey over the ancient and historic Silk Road. The ride took her from China, through 11 countries including Mongolia, Siberia, and Uzbekistan, and ended in Turkey.
Her latest ride through South America is yet another journey to help young people in Kenya help themselves and their communities.
Cycling South America
Organized by TDA Global Cycle Tours, Trenholme joined 24 other international cyclists from 11 countries on her South American Odyssey. The group started in Buenos Aires, Argentina on the Atlantic coast and cycled west across the Pampas, a vast plain that stretches across central Argentina to the Andean foothills.
Trenholme then pedalled up and over the Andes Mountains to reach Santiago, the capital of Chile, near the Pacific coast.
“From there, we rode south in Chile, bouncing along the narrow strip of fertile farming land, spectacular lakes and mountains, volcanoes and fjords between the Andes and the Pacific coast, through magnificent Patagonia to Tierra del Fuego,” she explained. “We finished the ride in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southern most point of South America.”
The region is wild, the terrain unforgiving, and much of the cycling was on remote roads.
As the group cycled further south, the population became sparse and the ride even more challenging.
“Riding in Patagonia on rough roads against considerable winds, in temperatures not much above freezing, sometimes in wet weather, and then bush camping at night, was challenging,” she said.
But with the challenges also came the rewards in a unique and evocative way.
Trenholme’s journey took her past the “spectacular” Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas, the Western and Southern Hemispheres. In Patagonia, Trenholome visited the Perito Moreno Glacier, Mount Fitz Roy and Torres del Paine.
Taking a rest-day every four or five days, the cyclists averaged about 125 km per day and completed the journey in nine weeks.
“The stunning scenery, wildlife and camaraderie made it totally worth any hardship,” said Trenholme. “Hiking our bikes through the nomansland between Chile and Argentina near El Chalten was especially memorable, as was seeing the white capped volcanoes in the incredibly scenic Lake District.”
Through it all, she and her cycling companions gained a better understanding of the unique history, the culture, and nautical importance of Tierra del Fuego, and how geography shaped the history, culture, and economies of Argentina and Chile.
“It was very rewarding.”
Kenya charges families up to $600 per child to send them to school, and many who live in poverty can barely sustain themselves.
KEEF gives financial support to students in Grades 9-12, and helps cover their school fees, room and board, solar lamps to study with, shoes and bicycles to get to school, clean water to drink, and latrines and kitchens in schools. KEEF also provides bursaries for post-secondary students.
Thanks to organizations like KEEF, they are making headway by funding education and empowering students and their communities.
KEEF graduates have also formed an alumni, called KEEF Kenya, which raises funds to send students to school.
”We see that our graduates continue to give back in many significant ways that profoundly affect not only themselves and their families, but improves the quality of life in their communities.”
During the COVID pause the KEEF Kenya Board continued interviewing and selecting students to receive scholarships. They also created an endowment fund in Kenya and use the interest from this fund to send students to high school.
“So we now have Canadians and Kenyans raising funds and ‘opening doors to the future’ through education,” added Trenholme. “It is teamwork. Canadians and Kenyans partnering together.”
Cycling in South America will be presented in Rossland at Gabriella’s in the Prestige Inn from 7-8:30 p.m.,Thursday, April 13.
To attend Trenholme’s slideshow in Trail contact the Selkirk College for admittance.
The presentation starts at 1:30 p.m., April 14, in Room 208 at Selkirk College.
The door at the mobility access ramp (1501 Cedar St.) is locked and unstaffed. For entry call Nella at 250-368-5236 by noon, April 14.
If the 900 Helena Street door is unattended, please use the bell at the side of that door to call an attendant. The presentation is by donation, with funds going to KEEF. For more information about KEEF, contact Shelagh at firstname.lastname@example.org.