Around the World in 80 Tyres: How a Scooter and Sidecar Shed a Light on Modern Day Slavery Worldwide
The most inspiring tales from their 31,000 mile journey.
Current location: Russia, day 424
Matt Bishop and Reece Gilkes first dreamt up the idea to circumnavigate the globe on a scooter and sidecar back in 2015, sat in their dingy London flat. After hours spent despairing over the state of the world and their inability to help, they decided the obvious solution was an Odyssean mission: an around the world trip across every environment imaginable to raise money and awareness for the fight against modern day slavery. And what better way to make this journey than in the least suitable mode of transport, a scooter and sidecar. At the time, they had absolutely no idea how to ride a motorbike, let alone how to drive a scooter with a sidecar around the world.
The pair have now scooted through five continents, 28 countries and 31,000 miles and spent an eye-watering 424 days travelling.
Now in the final stages of their journey, they’ve battled temperatures as low as -40 degrees in Siberia, hitched rides from the police in Mexico and overcome disastrous mechanical setbacks in Ethiopia. Despite their trials, the duo say it’s all been worth it to hear inspiring tales first-hand from those who have experienced modern day slavery, “with each visit, we learn of a new awful way this issue still exists, but we always leave inspired by the resourcefulness and the tenacity of the people fighting it”.
One such story came from Click, a normal Zimbabwean girl who found herself fighting as a Guerrilla soldier. A soldier who resigned, even though it meant prison. A talented artist, Click moved to Athens, only to be trapped as a slave for two years. This incredible woman achieved her dream and escaped imprisonment against all odds, becoming an inspiring artist and Ted talker. Incredibly, Click has gone on to free five other girls living in slavery, simply turning up in a taxi to rescue them and driving off. A truly tenacious lady.
Travelling through Kenya, Matt and Reece met Sophie and Jakob from HAART, a charity helping women exploited by traffickers. They explained that the problem doesn’t stop once women are rescued; the team began to hear rumours of sexual abuse in pre-existing safe houses in Nairobi. This, they couldn’t ignore, setting up an anonymous complaints service for vulnerable women. Sophie, herself a victim of human trafficking inspired the sidecar team with her passion in the face of injustice, “I’m going to mess with you if you mess with victims of trafficking”.
The sidecar team also wanted to expose modern day slavery in locations commonly thought to be emancipated. One such place is modern day Dallas, Texas. Priya and Michelle from New Friends, New Life explained that 400 girls are trafficked on the Dallas streets every night. They told harrowing tales of American girls trafficked from the surrounding rural areas by older men, posing as boyfriends. The girls arrive in Dallas expecting to start a new life with their boyfriend, but instead, they find themselves forced in to a life of prostitution, swept across the US until they are untraceable.
The money raised by the pair will be donated to a diverse range of charities, which fight modern day slavery, with Unseen UK, Utopia 52 in France and HAART Kenya just a selection. The full list of partners can be found here.
The pair will be returning to England on Saturday the 19th of January at the Ace Café, where they’ll be welcomed home with a drink or two to celebrate the world’s first circumnavigation of the globe in a scooter and sidecar.
But before then, they still have 4,000 miles of riding to do.
To learn more about the expedition, or to donate to the cause, visit https://asseenfromthesidecar.org/pledges/ and follow @Asseenfromthesidecar on Facebook, @SeenfromSidecar on Twitter or @as_seen_from_the_sidecar on Instagram.
For further press information, please contact:
Hannah Carlisle/Emma Arthurs
T: +44 (0)20 3440 8924
E: [email protected]
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