MEETING WITH TELSTAR SCOUTS – SOMEN DEBNATH IN LUXEMBOURG, 5 APRIl 2011
On Saturday, the Telstar scouts meeting at St George’s School in Hamm welcomed a special guest.
27 year-old Somen Debnath, two days after he acquired his Zoology, Botany and Anthropology degree from the University of Calcutta in India, set off on a 16-year, 191-country and 200,000km tour of the world to raise awareness of HIV/Aids and promote Indian culture. By bicycle.
Last week he arrived in Luxembourg. He expects to be “on the road” until 2020 and is now on his 5th bicycle.
To date, he has visited 59 countries and has travelled 82,700 km. He wants to educate people from different parts of society by raising awareness among students of schools, colleges and universities, and also encourage these institutions to start a chapter on HIV/Aids awareness programme, promote the use of clean needles and syringes among drug addicts and the use of condoms for sex workers (prostitutes). He also wants to raise awareness among the youth and encourage NGOs in respective countries throughout the world. In addition, he gives seminars on Indian culture.
He has conducted awareness-training programmes in 350 NGOs, 3,560 schools, 3,750 colleges, 68 universities, 139 red-light districts and numberous roadside restaurants. He has been received by 12 Presidents and 38 Government Ministers and Governors.
He says that inspiration for his mission came to him when he was 14 when he read an article entitled “Aids is Deadlier than Cancer”, about a homeless person who was laid down in front of the Medical College in Calcutta, abandoned by his villagers and left to die alone. It made a huge impact on him and he started to ask his teachers questions, but they could not give him the answers he was looking for. Two years later he began specialist training and started to help with an Aids awareness-raising programme. His mission spread first to the people of his village, then his country, and now it’s spreading world-wide.
Welcoming questions from the scouts, he said that money is not important to him. When he started out, he had 422 roupees (16 US dollars) in his pocket. He has relied on a number of partners and sponsors, and the genorosity of people along the way, including the Indian Embassies. He has faced many challenges along the way, including being captured for 24 days by the Taliban in Afghanistan; eventually, he was released thanks to his cooking skills – he cooked delicious spicy food for his captors. He was eventually released when they understood his mission was not against the Taliban and the story made headlines around the world.
He has also been robbed six times and has had numerous close encounters with wild animals.
He started his travels from West Bengal and took 18 months to travel India. He then went east to South-East Asia, the west to Central Asia and on to Europe. He recently spent some days in Ireland during the St Patrick’s celebrations and travelled through England and Belgium to reach Luxembourg. Next up will be Germany, Denmark, Greenland and then France. Next year he hopes to get to Africa, then on to the Americas…
He takes photographs wherever he goes and he collects souveniers from his travels which have also involved 28 ships and 32 planes. He will display these in a museum in a Global Village he hopes to set up, comprising around 25 houses/huts, which will be used to accommodate people from around the world on environmental studies and cultural exchanges.
Till Luxembourg I travelled 59 countries and I peddaled 82.000km. Till 2020 I will travel 200.000km in whole world.
118.000km I will do for a charity, so I am going to sell the kilometres I ride.
I will give certificates to the people who will by my kilometres as an honour.
They will also be a part of my global family while I’ll be travelling until 2020.
The support I will get from people buying my kilometres will help me to fulfil my other dream: to build the global village.
To my followers and supporters I will get a certificate as they bought km in my global journey and I also will upload their name and photograph and a short description in my blog and website.
If any of friends want to get this km they can get it by dollar / euro / pound as they feel convenient.