Nepalese brothers cycle through southern Illinois for environmentalism and AIDS awareness | Local News

MURPHYSBORO – In 2015, Dr Amrit Baral and his brother, Ajit, left their hometown of Pokhara, Nepal for a cycling trip around the world. After 18,000 miles, 16 countries and 75 punctures, they are taking a well-deserved rest day in Murphysboro.

Amrit, a 29-year-old doctor, and Ajit, a 27-year-old environmental activist, use the trip to raise awareness about HIV / AIDS and environmental issues by organizing events, giving talks and speaking to the media as they do around the world.

So far the brothers have cycled through India, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

They flew from Seoul to San Francisco in early July, and their destination for this leg of the trip is New York.

The couple hope to reach 100 countries in five years, spreading their “message of environmentalism and AIDS awareness,” Amrit said.

“There is a huge stigma about HIV / AIDS among us – people are abandoned (by) their families and their jobs,” said Amrit, who works with HIV / AIDS patients in Nepal.

Ajit works for a non-governmental organization in Nepal that supports environmental causes.

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The brothers organized a beach clean-up campaign in Sri Lanka, where they educated people about the harmful impact of plastic on marine life, and they spent two weeks cleaning up a village in Myanmar.

“There is this very rich guy in Myanmar, he sold all his belongings and he became a monk, and he donated all his belongings to the poor in Myanmar. He created a wellness village, where people all over the world can come and live there for free, ”Amrit said.

“So we were there for two weeks, and this village was really dirty, you know. So we helped people by teaching them how to separate biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste and how to deal with that, and we were doing cleanup campaigns every day while we were living there. And people still do (use these cleaning practices) now. “

The pair average 80 miles per day and mostly camp in city parks. Since arriving in the United States, they’ve had their fair share of scratches.

“The hardest part is sometimes that the weather is unpredictable. On Highway 50 in Nevada it was really hot for us. It was the saddest place we’ve ever been – so dry, 102 degrees, no water, ”Amrit said.

They had to deal with a hailstorm in the Colorado mountains and rattlesnakes at their southern Utah camp. And because they have to travel light, running out of food is always a risk.

Murphysboro resident Jan Marston decided to host the brothers after a family friend called her and told her he had met them in the west and luckily they were planning to go through Murphysboro.

“It was really cool talking to them about different countries, different cultures, what they think of America,” said Marston. “As an American it’s horrible for me to hear when people treat them badly, just because of the way they look or the color of their skin or the way they talk or whatever. other. … But it was good to hear their experiences and get to know them a bit.

The brothers will return home on September 25. They plan to see their family and work on a book about their travels, which they hope to publish in 2017. After that, they will be back on the road.

The Barals accept donations for their ride at They regularly post updates on their Facebook page, “World Tour Cyclists – An Awareness Project”.

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On Twitter: @janis_eschSI

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