Then again, David Gandar is not your average 61-year-old IT guy. David, who lives in Auckland, is close to completing his challenge of cycling 1,000 miles in one single month. He is raising funds to kick-start Raleigh New Zealand, a society that will provide opportunities for young people from New Zealand to go on an expedition, in David’s own words, to “help communities and protect environmental resources, and learn their own leadership personality.”
In spring 2015 David spent three months leading a team of volunteers and communities in Borneo, helping to protect Sabah’s rainforests. He was inspired by the beauty of the environment and by the young people taking action to protect this mega-biodiverse region. On his return, he felt deeply moved by the effects of deforestation and widespread fires occurring in neighbouring Indonesian Borneo.
“I now know how fragile that ecosystem is, how long it takes to help the trees to recover and how much labour is needed – the full biodiversity will never come back. So much is wasted as a result of ongoing deforestation. As well as the effect on people, there are orangutans, clouded leopards, sun bears, gibbons, Sumatran rhinoceros and tigers being driven from their habitat.
My way of tackling this is to write a new Raleigh NZ chapter, starting with my D-Carbon Cycle Challenge. We Kiwis have a good empathy for sustainability and by getting young volunteers to take part in expeditions we’ll develop a generation of committed leaders. My goal is to raise NZ$2,000 (£890) to kick-start Raleigh NZ in January 2016, and start a fund to sponsor Kiwi young adults to join the cause, learn leadership and sustainability.
The leadership element of Raleigh programmes sparks something in every volunteer. As a volunteer manager, I worked out how these motivated young adults can take on running parts of the project, show initiative and stretch themselves in new ways. This is a kind of leadership we need more of today.
I want to keep spreading the message about the fantastic work of Raleigh International, and how it allows venturers to have a cultural experience they’ll keep forever. I want to tell people about the huge volunteering spirit that bonds people in ways you can only appreciate by experience; and the solidarity of the Raleigh volunteers and the communities they work alongside.
Now is the time more than ever for people to collaborate, find common ground. The one thing we all have in common, all people everywhere, is how we rely on nature for life.”
As David nears the end of his mammoth challenge, you can donate to help kick-start a new chapter for Raleigh NZ by visiting his Givealittle page.