Some may have noticed a man on a tandem bicycle pedal quietly through Mangawhai a few weeks ago without barely a second glance, but Auckland IT consultant Naresh Kumar is quietly delivering an important message.
You may have already read of Naresh. Soon after moving to New Zealand in 2014, he was the ‘crazy man’ who walked/ran the Te Araroa Trail, from Cape Reinga to Bluff, unsupported in 87 days, and wearing sandals.
“During my Te Araroa run, I realised it’s just not the scenery but the people of this country that make it even more wonderful. I would say that it’s the most kindest people I have ever come across and decided that it’s the best place to start Freedom Seat," he said.
From watching the Lord of the Rings movies he decided he wanted to make New Zealand his home but his upbringing in Chennai in Southern India showed him poverty and degredation that imbued within him a need to do his bit in raising awareness and campaigning against sex trafficking.
“It’s a cause that’s very close to my heart, and also working on disaster relief efforts,” he says on his solo ride from North Cape to Bluff on his bike named ‘Kindness.’
Well, not entirely solo as Naresh invites any who are willing to hop onto the rear seat of his tandem and ride with him awhile.
Of his crusade he says: “We live in a world where vulnerable people are lured away from their families with promises of money and a better life. Once in the hands of traffickers, they’re deceived, coerced, and blackmailed into lives of commercial sexual exploitation, often NEVER to see their families again and, when found, many families don’t even want their children or daughters back again because they are stigmatised and they fear reprisals.”
Partnered by Tearfund NZ, Naresh makes no arrangements for overnight stays, relying simply on a place to pitch his one-man tent or the kindness of Kiwis to offer accommodation. When the Focus met him in Mangawhai he had been on the road for five days and had yet to unfurl his tent.
n For more info on his journey and daily blogs of his progress or to give a donation, check out freedomseat.org.nz.
BLESSED: Naresh Kumar says he is blessed to be able to live in New Zealand and fight for the rights of others. PHOTO/freedomseat