In the summer of 2015, students from the University of Sussex, in association with Sussex RAG, will be taking on the challenge of a lifetime.

The challenge involves six days of cycling across the fascinating and beautiful scenery of Kerala, crossing the coconut groves, tea plantations and national parks, travelling through friendly villages and the breathtaking mountains of the Western Ghat. The students will experience Kerala’s wildlife sanctuaries and watch out for tigers and elephants, staying off the tourist trail at remote ecolodges and homestays along the way. But more importantly, our volunteers will then have the chance to travel to Nagpur,  central India and visit some of the children who will be benefiting from the money raised by themselves and The Pendsey Trust.

We caught up with our current team leaders of the fundraising expedition, to asked them why they chose to get involved and what they wish to accomplish and learn from next summer’s adventure!

Jessica Mevel

Age: 19

Course: International Development

Describe yourself in three words: Dynamic – Social – Original


10721062_841882019178794_1418592250_nName : Dara Meunier

Age: 18

Course: Politics and International Relations

Describe yourself in three words: French, dynamic, hard-working


The Pendsey Trust: Tell us a little bit about the challenge you are going to undertake this year? 

Jessica & Dara: We are the co-leaders of the Sussex RAG Kerala Cycle Adventure, in summer 2015.

We have the pleasure of raising money for this recently founded charity ‘The Pendsey Trust’. We have been given the responsibility of leading 15 to 20 students on the Kerala Cycle adventure. We will be helping them fundraise £1000 each for the charity and next summer we will accompany them to India and cycle across Kerala to explore a whole different culture and meet the people and children of the charity.

We have to promote the challenge all over our University; we have been talking about it to all of our friends, at meetings, Freshers’ fair, telling people to spread the word about it. Facebook is playing a huge role in our promotion of the challenge as well, as we have posted about the challenge on most of the Sussex Facebook groups.

Once we have our team, that’s when we will book the flights and all start fundraising together.


TPT: How did you hear about the challenge- and why did you decide to get involved? 

J: Before summer started, Sussex RAG posted something on Facebook about being the Leader for the Kerala Cycle Adventure; I read about the trip and the charity and immediately thought I had to do this! I did think that it was going to be quite an undertaking so I thought that doing it as a pair would be better for me and for the trip in general, so I immediately thought of my housemate Dara. A big plus to me, is that I had always wanted to go to India. Sussex RAG organise many challenges and for some reason this is the one that really caught my eye, and I thought I want to do this.

D: I heard about the challenge through my friend Jessica (my official social hub). She told me about this whole adventure but we originally intended on simply taking part in the challenge until we decided we would like the opportunity to be team leaders. We got involved because we loved the fact that the charity was recent, that we would be the first to cooperate with the Pendsey Trust in England and India but most of all we fully agreed on the importance of the cause the charity is supporting.

TPT: What do you hope to learn from taking part in the trip?

J: I hope to learn and discover a completely new culture, I wish to fall in love with India, I am so excited to discover the many different types of sceneries we are going to see along the way. I cannot wait to meet and exchange with the people of Kerala and the children of The Pendsey Trust. I know that this trip will be life changing; I don’t think anyone can come back from a trip like this and not feel change in a certain way. I hope to gain a different perspective on the world.

D: I hope to learn how to manage a team of students in a fun and motivating way, I want to learn more about India and its culture and I definitely want to learn more about the charity itself.

TPT: What are you most excited about- and most nervous?

J: Most excited and nervous about the food! I am so excited to try Indian food in India, but also terrified because everyone tells me I will get sick. (I’m sure I will be fine). I am extremely excited to see the Taj Mahal, it’s been on my “to do list” for quite a while and I cannot wait. I guess I’m also nervous about the cycling being quite tough, but I am cycling every day in Brighton to train for it.

D: I’m most excited about starting the fundraising, making those first few pounds will be such an achievement and a motivation to continue our fundraising and our adventure. On the other hand I am bit nervous about leading so many students, some older than me, and trying to give them advice and guidance.

TPT: What happens next? What kind of events are you currently involved in on campus at the moment to promote the event?

J & D: With regards to events we are going to have a stand and sell things (we were thinking of Pick’N’Mix) at Sussex RAG’s Take Me Out event, which is in aid of The Pendsey Trust. We already had a Sussex RAG open meeting, where many different people attended, and a few of the challenge leaders introduced themselves and their challenge. So we made a little presentation about the challenge, we then had a few people come to us at the end eager to do the trip and asking questions about it. Next Monday, we have our first info meeting about the trip; we have already created a Facebook event and have invited as many people as possible. We also created a Facebook page for the Kerala adventure, which keeps getting more and more likes from people at Sussex interested in going on the trip. We have also been receiving messages from people saying that they are interested.

TPT: Do you have any exciting/ unique fundraising plans? 

J & D: We already have a few fundraising ideas, our university Raising and Giving (RAG) society organises quite original fundraising events so we definitely have sources of inspiration. We thought of a battle of the bands which would be a concert made of different bands from Sussex University, a date auction, a Pub Quiz (they are quite popular at Sussex) and a lot of cupcake baking. As soon as we have our team ready, we will start fundraising as much as we can. (cake sales, bucket collections, organising more events, etc). We also want to hear from our team if they have any ‘fun-fundraising’ ideas.

TPT: What would your message be to all the students at Sussex Uni who are deciding whether to take part?

J & D: IF YOU DO NOT COME YOU WILL FAIL YOUR YEAR! Just kidding, we would just say DO IT!! It is an adventure of a lifetime that we will be able to talk about to our children and grand-children. Most people who are unsure are hesitating because of the fundraising part of the trip so I would reassure them that you can make £100 in a day with street collections, it really is not that difficult and the support of the whole team will be very advantageous to boost everyone.

It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity, even life changing.

Kerala Cycle Facebook Cover

Jessica and Dara, along with all the other Sussex University students, will be cycling through Kerala and ending in Nagpur next summer (2015). When they reach Nagpur they will be able to meet up with everyone at The Dream Trust and those people who we aim to help day in day out. It will be a very special occasion as they will be able to witness first hand where all the funds they have raised by undertaking this challenge will be going.

We will be helping them along the way right up to when they begin their epic journey, and we wish them all the best with their continuous fundraising efforts at Sussex University.

If you are reading this as a Sussex University student and wish to get involved or even know more about it then please contact Sussex RAG here. Additionally you can follow them on Twitter and Facebook.
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