ANKARA: A journey of a thousand kilometers begins with a single step, but for one courageous woman academic in Turkey it was also the start of a seven-year adventure that has become a symbol of courage and strength for both women and men.
Asil Ozbay, 36, from Istanbul Gedik University’s sports science department, has ridden across dozens of countries on three continents on her motorcycle to demonstrate the freedom that women can enjoy.
On Tuesday, she began a tour of Africa to highlight the beauty of the continent and provide scholarships to the successful African students who hope to study in Turkey.
“This time, it is not only a trip but also a journey of self-discovery and altruism because I’m planning to provide scholarships to needy African students,” she told Arab News from Kenya.
On previous journeys, Ozbay has motorcycled through countries across Europe, North Africa and Asia.
She made headlines in 2016 after riding her motorcycle over the mountain pass of Tizi n’Tichka in Morocco, regarded as one of the world’s most dangerous routes.
Last year, Ozbay reached Khardung La mountain pass in Ladakh, one of the world’s highest roads, after a demanding 60-day trip.
The Istanbul academic has ridden motorcycles for the past 19 years, and describes motorcycling as a “passion and source of freedom.”
She has sought out rarely visited and isolated areas around the world to share her unique experience with people.
As part of a year-long documentary project, she plans to travel alone through 16 African countries on her motorcycle, revealing Africa “through the eyes of a woman.”
Ozbay said that she hopes to challenge stereotypes about motorcycle use being “part of the men’s world,” inspire people about women’s empowerment, and set an example for helping developing countries with schooling.
Long journeys help people to develop a sense of responsibility, listen to their inner voice and increase their problem-solving skills, she said.
Her first stop in Africa is Kenya and she is planning to travel about 30,000 kilometers through Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Burundi and Zambia.
Ozbay said that she will stay in hostels but will also set up a tent in safer areas.
During her African odyssey, she will produce digital content and shoot documentaries showing village life and traditions.
She carries pepper spray with her for security, but has not faced any serious issue so far.
Ozbay will share her videos on her YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKBoWVGCDEGuyAxtUkEMGqg
She has already shared her experiences via her social media account.
“Don’t delay your dreams. As a woman who can launch a trip alone, I want to encourage men and women to show that the world is worth discovering,” she said.
“With my documentaries, I also act as a bridge between countries, helping to show undiscovered and hidden cultures around the world.”
She added: “If a person wants to do something with passion, nothing can stop them.”