An Indian engineer is cycling all the way from Chennai to Germany's Hamburg, an 8500km distance to raise funds for victims of trafficking.
Nareshkumar's mission is to raise awareness to end all forms of modern slavery. He would ride through twelve countries including UAE, Oman, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Austria. Winding up his Indian lap in Mumbai, he would fly to the Gulf.
Called Freedom Seat, anyone can join him for a ride on the pillion of his tandem bicycle called Kindness, for a chat on his cause.
Through the ride, the 36-year-old is also raising a fund of Rs 30 lakh to help a community of those rescued from trafficking and bonded labour in Chennai.
Naresh told NDTV, "Freedom is the highest form of living anyone can have. We have more slaves now than those slavery days then. 40 million people world over are exploited sexually or as bonded labour. The money I raise would help the rescued bonded labourer's association. This would be a seed fund for them to start a life with dignity".
Naresh plans to cover 120km distance every day. He travels with bare minimum clothing and accessories. The cyclist carries a GPS gadget that would help his family and friends to track his movement. Also in his bag, a puncture and tools kit besides a few spare tubes for his cycle. He also has a sleeping bag and a tent to rest at night.
This is his first inter-continental cycling. Last year he had undertaken the 55,000km long ocean-to-ocean "Indian Pacific Wheel Ride" from Fremantle, Perth to Opera House, Sydney. In 2017, he had undertaken the 3300km Freedom Seat ride in New Zealand to combat sex trafficking.
He added, "I'd pick up random people and talk to them about slavery, that's the fun part of it. Everyone wants to help. When I offer a ride, they jump and join me riding for a cause".
When asked does he have any worries, he said, "Iran is the only country where I'd be cycling in some cold remote areas and I'm little worried about it".
An electronics engineer from a humble background in Chennai, Naresh earned his engineering degree in electrical and electronics with a scholarship. He quit his corporate job in the US to pursue his passion for simpler and joyful living. A visit to Nepal triggered in him a burden to fight for the most vulnerable people. Rotary Club of Guindy has partnered with him. Naresh would also attend Rotary International's conference at Hamburg.
International Justice Mission an NGO that works in rescue and rehabilitation of bonded labourers has welcomed Naresh's mission.
Sharon Jabez, Associate Director, Media and Communications says, " He's not just raising financial support but also creating champions and influencers along the way who could eventually have a big role to play in the mission of combating human trafficking and bonded labour".
Around 30 survivors of bonded labour had come to see him off at the Dr MGR Educational and Research Institute, his alma mater from where he began his expedition.