This is the story of how the Hippocampus Initiative was started…
In a small room, on a Sunday evening, towards the end of 2017, three students got together to discuss a common experience – that there was a lack of financial support in their community. The three of us had a burning passion to help our friends, but no idea what to do.
As we engaged with this topic, we realized that many students on our campus had a similar financial situation. Our friends were receiving funding that covers their studies, accommodation and food costs, but that other important financial aspects related student life were often neglected. This causes students to be financially excluded from obtaining basic needs, or to compromise by spending their food allowances on other lifestyle costs, such as toiletries and transport home.
We decided that we would want to help our fellow students financially with covering expenses that bursaries and funding schemes don’t cover, in order to decrease financial stress on our campus and to empower students to obtain basic needs that improve their overall wellbeing.
As students we aren’t worth much financially. But physically and emotionally we have the capacity to do something extra-ordinary to get the attention of those who do have the financial capacity to help. And so, the Hippocampus Cycle Tour was born.
Two other crazy students joined us, as we started preparing physically to take on an almost 1000km cycling trip, which would serve as an incentive for crowd sourced funding. None of us were cyclists. In fact, one of our team members cycled for the first time in his life just 38 days before we departed on the journey.
For two months we spent six mornings a week waking up between 4am and 6am to either spin or cycle. We started cycling with T-shirts, takkies and those old bicycles that you would’ve gotten for your 14th birthday. It was clear that we had no idea what we were doing, but the commitment in us to make a change in our community was stronger than the challenge of early mornings or the discomfort of taking on something we had no experience in.
Shortly before our tour, a blessing came our way in the form of a videographer and editor, who did an amazing job of capturing the heart and story of the initiative so that we could share it. He was followed by another man willing to sacrifice, who volunteered to drive a support safety vehicle at the speed of traffic for almost a 1000km.
Together, as a team of seven, we managed to travel safely, on bicycles, from the one northern border of our country, at Vioolsdrift, to our campus, and then further to the most southern tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas. It was a gruelling 8-day trip which we completed on the 9th of December 2018.
The journey for us was a symbolic one. From the border, to our campus, as a symbol for how far our country has come to where it is now – where tertiary education is more accessible to all South Africans. But, we are not satisfied with that, we kept cycling from where we are, as far forward as we possibly can, to the most southern tip of Africa, to show that we want to do more for our peers – as much more as we possibly can.
After that we had the privilege to cycle even more – we conquered the 109 km Cape Town Cycle Tour on vintage Matie bikes that have only one gear.
Throughout the entire journey, with the help of our community, we raised over R60 000, with the possibility of more funds still being raised. Until now, we worked hard, together with our faculty, to develop a way to responsibly manage the funds we raised, while making it accessible to a diverse student need.
If you contributed to our fund we are extremely grateful. The donation you made will soon be helping students on our campus to buy toiletries, stethoscopes, travel tickets to go home and much more.