This year, we rolled out Fluent Dream Grants, an initiative designed to give every Fluent employee the opportunity to pursue their personal dreams and passions. Learn more about the program here.
Dream Grant Destination: Tanzania
This year, six Fluent Dream Grant recipients joined forces to raise funds for World Bicycle Relief (WBR), a non-profit organization that addresses the need for reliable, affordable transportation in rural areas of developing countries. Founded in 2005, WBR aims to create a world where distance is no longer a barrier to education, healthcare, and economic opportunity.
In addition to donating bicycles to WBR, the “Tour de Fluent” team also traveled to Tanzania to complete a 5-day, Kilimanjaro to Ngorongoro bike challenge across the African savanna. Read more about their journey below.
A Word from the Organizers: Jamaal Brown & Andrea Bocchio
We set out trying to find an experience that would present a physical challenge and allow us to give back to the community. Even though we are both fitness enthusiasts, we were by no means cyclists. From the get-go, we knew it would be hard, but we were excited to train and recruit friends and colleagues to join us on this journey. I don’t think we realized how challenging this trip would be until we started riding through mud 10 minutes into our first day!
We gave ourselves a high fundraising goal and have to say it felt lofty at the beginning. It was incredible to see how quickly we were able to activate our networks and felt great to watch the numbers climb day after day. Not only did we reach our goal, but we surpassed it – we are close to $42k raised, or 285 bikes donated! It feels amazing to know that we were able to change the lives of so many people who will now have access to a reliable means of transportation.
An Inside Look at the Bike Challenge
Each day, we woke up at 6 am (or earlier!) to hit the road and beat the heat. After a few hours of cycling, we’d take a break to enjoy a homemade, roadside lunch courtesy of our amazing guide. With another 30 – 70 miles behind us, we’d arrive at our campground in the early evening. After gathering together to share a meal and recap of our day, we’d then retire to our tents and rest up for another long day of cycling.
What was your favorite part of the trip?
“My favorite was always at the end of each day when we finally reached the campsite. It was an awesome feeling to complete a full day’s ride and get a chance to hang out with the whole team afterward. We all felt a great sense of accomplishment and team comradery.” – Carl Augustin, Director, Publisher Development
“The challenge, the kids, the scenery…and we cannot forget about the animals! We were challenging ourselves to go outside our comfort zone for the greater good of others. Even though the trip was more challenging than we had expected, the fact that we knew we were raising money to help make a difference in the lives of others made the trip well worth it.” – Tracey Brower, Sr. Manager, Media Operations
“The kids and the scenery. Biking down the road past schools and villages and having all the children run out to the road to say hello and wave was incredible. Killi was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. Walking up to a hill in the bush to listen to the Massai sing and dance as the setting sun turned the sky bright pink around the mountain was the most beautiful experience of my life.
As a remote employee, I was also so glad to spend some time with co-workers that shared similar passions with me. It was great to connect with new people from the other side of the world and co-workers I wouldn’t have gotten to know so well otherwise.” – Kelsey Buxton, Platform Growth Strategist
How did this trip change your perspective?
“We all make the joke of “first world problems” but this trip truly brought to light how many issues we face that are so minimal compared to the struggles that others face daily. We live in a world of running water, massive food supply, electricity, and access to other conveniences at our fingertips. I left the experience feeling like I needed to donate my entire apartment and live a more “minimalist” life here in the U.S. This trip helped me learn to be more grateful for what I have and take less for granted.” – Tracey Brower – Sr. Manager, Media Operations
“This trip was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and changed me as a person. Never in a million years did I think I could bike 250 miles in 5 days. Now I’m hooked on cycling and training for a triathlon with my boyfriend. Every time I am doing something difficult, I think to myself, if I could make it on that bike the last day in Africa, I can make it through this.” – Kelsey Buxton – Platform Growth Specialist
“This was the most fulfilling trip I’ve ever taken in my life. From start to finish I felt like I was giving back to a community that needed support and helping improve lives. Full transparency…I nearly teared up on the bike ride. As we rode our bikes through the small villages and passed small schools, the children and community would run to the street and cheer us on, “JAMBO” and say, “Thank You.” There are so many people and communities in need – to find a method to give them a helping hand is truly inspiring.
I was also astonished by the number of family and friends that donated to our team and wanted to learn more about how they could help. Some of my largest donors were old friends from middle school and high school who I haven’t seen or spoken to in over a decade. Many of them donated a bike or two which encouraged me throughout the trip and made me feel proud of being able to support such a great cause. – Willis Nelson – Sales Director, Mobile