Arafat Gatabazi takes on the Big Bay challenge

“I’m heading out in the sea again soon, this time I will be swimming from Robben Island to Three Anchor Bay to raise funds for Breadline Africa. All funds raised will go towards providing a dedicated container classroom for Imizamo Yethu Educare Centre in Khayelitsha. Education is so important, especially for the kids growing up in this area who will so benefit from having a safe classroom to learn in. I so hope I can raise the funds through this swim as at the moment the shack they are in is cramped, leaking and cold. These kids are the future of South Africa and I have realised that if I cannot make a difference yet in my country, I will make a difference in the country where I came to seek refugee, after escaping the war in my country. Let’s all come together and support this cause To Donate, click here

Arafat fled from his homeland, the Democratic Republic of Congo, in October 2012 at the age of 17, leaving behind his parents and two of his siblings after the M23 troops entered their village.

To this day, he remains hopeful of being reunited with his family .Marion Wagner, our director, was an enthusiastic volunteer swimming instructor at The Homestead – and ignited a spark that has turned into a burning commitment to the lure of open water. Ms Wagner clearly recalls the day in 2012 when she met Arafat at Long Street Baths and he asked if she could teach him butterfly. She recognised his ability and natural swimming style and he became her star pupil. It wasn’t long before she secured sponsorship for Arafat and he took to the cold waters of the Atlantic. After suffering hypothermia on his first attempt, he completed the 7.5km swim from Robben Island to Bloubergstrand in 2015, wearing only a standard swimsuit, swimming cap and goggles, in accordance with FINA open water swimming rules. He was named the 2014 Open Water Swimmer of the Year by the Cape Long Distance Swimming Association.

Arafat lives his life by a simple maxim: “My advice is that nothing is impossible if you want do it – you just have to put in the effort and focus on what you’re doing. The most important thing is to know what you want to achieve in your swimming which also applies to everything you do in life.”

Arriving in Cape Town after crossing five countries and covering approximately 3,400 km (2,112 miles), Arafat and his two cousins, who fled with him, were eventually relocated to The Homestead, a registered non-profit organisation helping street children reconstruct their shattered lives.

Arafat also supported and swam with UK resident and Breadline Africa ambassador Jane Hardy, whose goal it is to swim around 50 castles in the world to commemorate her 50th birthday.