KUCHING: A historic solo feat is currently being attempted by a 45-year-old Sabahan, Louis Pang, who will be cycling from the tip of Sarawak in Sematan to the tip of Sabah in Simpang Mengayau covering a total of 1,615 kilometres.
The feat, called the ‘Tour of Hope’, is to raise RM2.9 million for the construction of 72 hostels for the blind at the Wallace Training Centre in Tuaran, Sabah – a centre which provides work training to about 500 blind members for them to enter the workforce.
Today, Pang will continue his journey to Sri Aman followed by Saratok on Sept 13, Sibu (Sept 14), Bintulu (Sept 15), Niah (Sept 16), Miri (Sept 17), Brunei Darussalam (Sept 18), Lawas (Sept 19), Papar (Sept 20), Kota Belud (Sept 21) and Simpang Mengayau (Sept 22).
“I am grateful that I have received a lot of encouraging response on Facebook and WhatsApp for the Tour of Hope and how it would benefit the blind community in Sabah,” Pang told the press here after completing his 105km journey from Sematan around 1.40pm yesterday.
The Tour of Hope, he added, is a feat that he had decided to achieve after feeling empathetic to members of the blind community who cannot find jobs or provide for their families without proper training.
“I was diagnosed with two levels of prolapsed disc, which immobilised me and left me unable to work for several months. I suffered excruciating back pain and numbness on my left leg. All I could do was to lie on my back,” said Pang recalling his ordeal.
He said the doctor suggested that he start losing weight and gave him two viable options to alleviate the back pain, which was either through swimming or cycling. Pang chose the latter.
“That was two years and nine months ago and I have lost 15kg since,” said Pang, who is also the current Sabah state road cycling team coach.
Also present at the press conference was Sabah Society for the Blind president Datuk Rosalind Chew Bee Koh, who felt honoured that Pang decided to choose the non-governmental organisation for the Tour of Hope.
“Currently around 500 blind members are undergoing skills training at the centre, which is vital for them to make a livelihood and therefore enable them to be independent and self-sufficient,” she added.
Presently, the centre has 10 houses that can accommodate 28 blind members and their families.
These homes, she revealed, are not sufficient to accommodate many as there are numerous blind and visually-impaired individuals, especially from the rural areas in Sabah.
Chew added the lack of facilities and housing has impeded the society’s bid to accord sufficient education, training, and care for the blind.
The society to-date has a number of income-generating projects for the blind residents at the centre’s workshop that includes a reflexology centre, mushroom cultivation, organic vegetable farming, and free-range chicken.
“So far, I am confident that we will be able to reach the target of raising the RM2.8 million,” said Chew, suggesting also that instead of merely ‘liking’ the Tour of Hope Facebook page (fb.com/TourOfHopeBorneo), people should donate to the cause.
The Tour of Hope fundraising chairperson Phang Joo See added that each donation made will be provided with a receipt and is tax-exempt.