We made it!

We made it!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Big Question: Is It Safe?

So the date is late November. It is a matter of weeks before we leave for India and we are attending the book launch of our good friend Deb Kandelaars who has written a very powerful book called ‘Memoirs of a Suburban Girl’ (we encourage you all to read this important book). We are at the after launch party at Deb’s house, a first for Bec and I. Here we enjoy meeting some old friends from our old home town of Middleton. We are talking about our trip and as usual you can see the initial reaction of ‘wow that sounds amazing’ then the second reaction of ‘are you guys crazy?’ After some discussion about the trip my friend, a father of two kids who lives a pretty settled and safe life down on the Fleurieu Peninsula turns to me and asks “Is it safe?” I rabble along with a half answer for some time and then end up saying “I don’t really know, is anything really safe?” I then went and stewed on this question for the next few weeks and honestly every day we have been away.

The truth of the matter is there is that little voice in your head that says play it safe, don’t take any risks, stay in your comfort zone. My voice really didn’t need any encouragement as there had been several times in recent months where I have turned to Bec and said let’s not do this thing. Ofcourse Bec just says “don’t be stupid, we are doing it”. I guess it is like anything in life there are risks. You can’t really live your life avoiding risks you can only choose how to manage them. As we planned for this trip we asked ourselves not just what is the risk of doing this but what is the risk of not doing this? What is the risk of allowing our kids to grow up without the broader perspective of what life is like in other countries and cultures and importantly what is life like for deprived, vulnerable and excluded kids. What is the risk of not showing our kids that they can set and achieve big hairy audacious goals and then achieve them?

I will never forget our new friend Paul Hameister, the 68th Australian to summit Mt Everest. He tells of his passage up the mountain and a particular section called the Death Zone. He recalled as he made it through this section that this wasn’t his death zone, his actual death zone was sitting at home on the couch watching television. I can relate to this and know that it would be very easy for us as a family to get stuck in the busyness of life and live life in our safe little box worrying about mortgages and schedules and work and school etc etc etc.

Over the past 16 months our family has lived with an absolute sense of purpose. Together we have made the decision to go on this adventure, planned our trip, we have given talks at local community groups and schools, we have conducted fund raising events, we have learned about the needs of vulnerable children, we have prepared for our trip and all of this before we took a step. We have then travelled to India, walked together nearly 600km, spent every day together for 6 weeks, we have turned off our phones and emails and most importantly we have met thousands of incredible Indian kids and families that have provided us with so much inspiration. Our kids have made so many new friends, provided important items to improve the health, safety and education of kids and families. They have spent time with people at ChildFund India learning about child sponsorship, community development and child development. They have befriended wonderful people like Antony who have dedicated their life to children. They have a wealth of new experiences that they carry with them through their life. They have a breadth of perspective and experience that they now bring back with them to Australia. And perhaps most importantly they know they can dream big, even dream something that they cannot see or understand and then know they can set about and achieve their dreams. I wonder what it must feel like at 9 and 13 to be able to say I have walked across India, I certainly couldn’t say that when I was that age.

Travelling as a family meant managing risks. It meant partnering with a wonderful organisation like ChildFund who provided us with an enormous amount of support. It meant securing the services of a car and driver for the entire trip to enable the kids to everyday make a choice about walking or not. It meant securing accommodation in advance and not moving on a daily basis to enable the kids sufficient rest time between stops. It meant blocking out rest days within the trip to ensure the kids had time to recover and manage their conditioning. It meant making decisions on a couple of occasions not to walk but to drive as the roads were not safe to walk. It meant mixing up the accommodation so the kids got to experience $20 per night very basic accommodation through to a couple of nice hotels so the kids could play in the pool and recharge. These were the various ways we chose to manage the risks and do the trip in a way that we considered safe for our family and most importantly for our kids.

So again I ask what is the risk? And what is the risk of not doing this?

Having completed our walk safely and with good health I am so happy for our family but also for others who I know have been watching and starting to think about what they can do with their families. Life is there to be lived. Bec and I strongly believe in providing our kids with unforgettable life experiences and spending important time with them while they are young.

There are risks in doing and there are risks in not doing. Our regrets in life are rarely based on what we have done but more in what we have chosen not to do. So what choice do you have to make? We are starting planning our next adventure as a family and can’t wait to see what we can achieve with our next journey.


  1. Hi you wonderful Petruccos!
    Wow, you did it...we are so very proud of your achievements, and inspired by your actions. It's not only had a huge impact on you as a family unit - an unforgettable lifechanging experiece - but importantly on the lives of children in India. And by doing something like this, you've shown the way to others. You rock! Love the Kandelaars' xxx

  2. That's amazing Nick. I am from India and intended to do something similar, solo though. Can you give me your email address as I would like to know more about your trip.