Fundraiser putters off on epic solo ride

2010-08-10 00:00

HOWICK-BASED AustralianTony Psaila began a journey yesterday that will see him spend more than five years travelling around the world on his custom-made tractor.

Psaila has been planning the journey for the last two years and is attempting to raise the profile of his World Fund for Victims of Violence and Rape initiative.

The lively Australian was invited to the Midlands Meander Women’s Day Concert that took place at the Yellowwood Café in Howick yesterday, and he was treated to a vocal send-off by the audience and Idols singer Jason Hartman.

Psaila left Howick at around 4 pm and will arrive in Durban today to meet the city’s mayor, Obed Mlaba, at 3 pm.

An interview with East Coast Radio’s morning show will take place tomorrow morning before Psaila sets off for Cape Town, “zig-zagging” his way through South Africa.

“I am hoping to arrive in Cape Town by the end of the year,” says Psaila.

He expects the entire journey to take between five and seven years.

The tractor will be shipped to Australia where Psaila will travel through his home country and New Zealand before shipping the tractor to South America, and then make his way through the U.S. and Canada.

Once he has reached Vancouver in Canada, Psaila will travel through Russia and Europe before beginning a long stretch from northern Africa back to Howick.

Psaila, who has been living in South Africa for nine years, will be stopping at schools on his journey so that he can speak to children and encourage them to lead responsible lives.

“When I get back after all that time I would have spoken to hundreds of thousands of children and that is the main motivation for the trip,” he says.

“We also have a goal to raise R1 billion to contribute towards existing centres looking after people in South Africa and to help create more.”

Psaila adds that he aims to raise R3 million before leaving South Africa to help rape awareness activist Jessica Ford build a centre for rape survivors in Hillcrest.

The prospect of not having a roof over his head while on the trip is not something that worries Psaila.

“The trailer of the tractor has a roof over it and I have all of my camping and cooking utensils in there so I’ll be fine,” he laughs.

“Obviously it will be nice to take a shower sometimes and there will certainly be people along the way willing to help out.”

Psaila has been involved in charity work since 2006 when he drove a tractor around South Africa, raising more than R100 000 for the Midlands Crisis and Trauma Centre, an organisation he has worked closely with after being on the receiving end of a violent attack.

“I was shot in an armed robbery on my property in Howick,” says Psaila.

“It was a turning point in my life and I have been involved ever since.”

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