Parow man to walk 600km to pay off wife’s student debt

Lucien Williams and his wife, Washiela Williams.

A Parow West man is walking from the Cape Town Stadium to George in a bid to raise R30 000 to cover his wife’s student debt.

Lucien Williams will be walking 600km from Thursday March 23 to Saturday April 1.

The aim of the walk, he says, is to help his wife pay off her student debt and raise awareness about financial exclusion at tertiary institutions.

Last year, Washiela Williams completed her Bachelor in Education degree at Unisa, but she says the university has told her that she must pay off her debt before she can graduate.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme funded her studies for the first two years but did not provide her with financial aid in 2021. They then funded her final year of studies in 2022. Unisa wants Ms Williams to pay her outstanding fees for 2021.

“I am the first child to graduate in our family. I was looking forward to being that one, and being on stage wearing my gown and hat. It’s a really big thing,” she said.

Mr Williams said he hoped that the walk would draw attention to his wife’s BackaBuddy campaign, which was started in January.

“Whenever I am stressed I take a walk. So it was a natural fit. I don’t know why I picked George; I should have picked some place closer,” he laughed.

Mr Williams will be walking for 12 to 15 hours a day and will be sleeping at the homes of New Apostolic Church members.

“I will not be accompanied by anyone – it will just be me and my tunes from my phone,” he said.

Ms Williams said: “As I know Lucien, he is a very determined person, if he sets his mind to something he will do it. I told him that I will support him.”

Mr Williams has been doing weight training and exercises to strengthen his legs for the walk.

“This is my first time attempting something of this magnitude. I have always been an avid walker, unfortunately when you don’t have a car you get used to walking.”

He said he looked forward to meeting people and seeing the scenery along the way.

“We are all praying for him. I know God will look after him and as he walks, every step of the way, God will be there with him. Although I am worried, I know he will be safe,” Ms Williams said.

Approached for comment, Unisa said that in line with the Protection of Personal Information Act, it could not divulge personal information about students or staff.