A man rides a tandem bike from Oregon to Washington, DC

Why travel across the United States by bike? The aim is to spark conversations and raise awareness about the products people consume and modern slavery.

WASHINGTON DC, DC — 35 days, 3,400 miles and several sweat blisters later, a cyclist has reached Washington, DC

WUSA9’s Jacqueline Quynh takes us to meet Naresh Kumar and why he’s gone to great lengths to raise awareness about human trafficking.

“It’s a place I’ve wanted to be for 30 or 35 days, so it’s so good to be back,” Kumar said.

That’s how long it took Kumar to travel to the nation’s capital from Astoria, Oregon.

“I grew up from very humble beginnings in India and life was quite difficult. You see a lot of exploitation happening around you and you can’t do anything about it. But as you grow up, you want to do something.”

This was to raise awareness about human trafficking, which includes forced labor or sexual acts.

“Solving a problem, recognizing it is the first step,” Kumar said.

So why travel the country by bike? It helped spark a conversation.

“I think it’s curiosity that attracts a lot of them. They see an empty seat when you’re riding, while they’re riding next to you, and they’ll say, ‘You know your girlfriend left, she is not there.’ there, in the seat next to you.'”

Sometimes it was a funny remark that allowed Kumar to talk about his cause, Pedaling 4 Freedom.

“Naresh Kumar named his bike Kindness, so people could ask, ‘Where is Kindness online?’ and get on that seat,” Quynh said.

The tandem bike symbolizes the loss of freedom experienced by the victims.

“When you’re sitting there, you can’t steer, you can’t brake, and you’re trusting a random person.”

But for volunteers, there is the possibility of leaving. A State Department report estimates that in 2021, approximately 27 million people worldwide met the definition of human trafficking under U.S. law.

“Just be aware before you buy or consume something. Did the hand or the product, that hand that made this possible, did he eat that day, did he work and Was he paid that day?” » said Kumar.

He is already thinking about his next challenge, in addition to his daily work.

“You’d be surprised, I’m a freelance engineer. I carried my laptop throughout this trip.”

But another great adventure awaits him at home.

“I want to go home because I have a 35-week pregnant wife at home. I’m expecting a child.”

You can find more information about Pedaling 4 Freedom here.

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