About – Numinous Expeditions

I’m a strong believer that each person has a mission on this earth. The Universe shapes one in preparation for your calling and does not make mistakes. Discovering the reason for your being is what makes life worth living.

Backtrack to November 2017.

“Nurse! Please nurse, help me!” No response was heard from the nursing staff, and I could go as far as to say that they really did not care about the fellow that was lying opposite me in a forgotten Rob Ferreira hospital ward. It didn’t take much to motivate me in assisting my new friend with a small by almost meaningless task. After all, the only thing the dying man needed was a glass of water…

The doctors had been whispering “looks like it could be cancer, but let’s do some more tests.”

Hearing those words block out all other sounds. What you consider problematic in your life disintegrates. The man had been so thankful for the glass of water and looked deep into my soul as if I had given him an extra hour to live. When I got back into my hospital bed, the night became still, and I was inspired to ask my Creator for another 10 years on His beautiful earth. I proceeded in prayer. “Please, give me ten more years as I’m only 25, and I’d like to prove my worth in this life. I’ll make a true difference, and forget about my yearning for financial gain.”

Everything was uncertain at this moment in time, but would soon come together as if it were written long before I was born. Jolandie was at my side the next day, and I was bursting with excitement. “Help me in sticking to my oath, let’s forget about our ambition to collect material things, and be part of something bigger.” She agreed, almost instantly.

A couple of months went by, and my condition worsened. A diagnosis was made, but it would be the first of three – Aplastic Anemia. The daily running of our carpentry business was interrupted with emergency blood transfusions, waiting in casualty wards, and swallowing down copious amounts of medication that seemed to make me sicker. We were sent from city to city and ended up at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town – on the opposite side of the country. After a total of 6 painful bone marrow biopsies, the doctors had finally seemed to have a solution. I was dying and needed to undergo a bone marrow transplant. We were engaged at the time and had planned out our wedding. “Go and get married, close down your business in Nelspruit, and get back here as soon as you can, it’s your only chance.”

We got married on the 5th of May 2018 and received my second diagnosis two days later. “I’m terribly sorry for doing this over the phone Mr. Lewis, but the results came back, unfortunately, it’s Leukemia – blood cancer”. I looked over at my new wife as she was waiting in the bakkie, and took a deep breath, she cried, and yet, I still had a true calmness in my soul about it.

We had one month to prepare and had to start the process of laying off our guys. We decided to use our last remaining resources at our business to build a home-on-wheels on the back of Gertha – our trusted Ford F250. It had been a lifelong dream to live on the road and explore long forgotten places in Africa. We closed down, and our friends and family assisted us in the build. We set sail to Cape Town, not really a honeymoon, but we made the best of the journey.

Before treatment started, the doctor decided that she wanted to run one more test, which resulted in the final diagnosis, it shadowed the others, as it was the cause of both. Fanconi Anemia. A rare and incurable genetic condition, that affected very few people in the world. It basically causes cancer, and it would be part of our lives for the rest of my life. I had a calmness to me, which most couldn’t understand, but the following words shook my core, I still get goosebumps thinking about it. “You’ll have a 30% chance of surviving the transplant, in the case that you do, you’ll have a life expectancy of 35 years.” I was given the ten years I asked for, and Numinous Expeditions was branded to the top of my to-do list.

I booked into the F4 isolation ward at Groote Schuur, and what lied ahead could only be described as the most challenging experience of our lives. Isolated from the world, we had to fight it together. Jolandie was at my side every step of the way, she held my hand when I shivered uncontrollably, she cried when I cried, she tickled my back when I didn’t have enough strength to get up off the bathroom floor and bathed me in bed. The idea of suicide crept into my thoughts many times, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy – if I had any.

Almost five months later, I was discharged from my room and wheeled out of the hospital in a wheelchair. I had lost 18kg’s but gained a new perspective as if it were just a lesson that needed to be learned.

Numinous Expeditions was embedded into our daily lives, and we took every opportunity we had, to stick to the oath.

Our Mission & Goals

Our mission will take us through the African continent, to as many countries as possible – starting with our own, beautiful South Africa. To do this, we will have to live on the road fulltime in our home on wheels, experiencing different traditions, cultures, challenges, and landscapes around the world. Projects tend to come our way naturally, and we aim to complete one meaningful project in every country we reach. We do our best in educating those around us with the main topic of sustainability and conservation, and open our own minds to learning about new solutions every day. We hope to share compassion and inspire others to do the same. Animal wellbeing and the conservation of wild species remain something close to our hearts.

Our Truck

To make all of the above possible, we needed a reliable vehicle that would toughen out the worst conditions and roads in Africa. We would have to be able to make mechanical repairs next to the road, and most importantly we would have to be able to afford it. By chance we came across an old retired fire department rescue vehicle – a 1995 Mercedes 1517 4×4, and we instantly knew she was “The One”. We named her Betsy.

The idea developed, and we sought advice from a family that had driven around Africa in a similar truck. Mark Sampson from Africa Clockwise and his family inspired us to convert our truck to run off used vegetable oil – a green solution to diesel, and making it more affordable all round.

We converted the truck to oil by means of DIY engineering, using spare parts from old tractors and agricultural equipment on a distant farm in Piketburg. We now face the huge financial and physical challenge of converting the truck into a capable home on wheels. It will involve sweat, blood, and patience, but we are determined to succeed as this is the first step in an adventure that hopefully bring change to many on our travels.

What is Fanconi Anemia?

Fanconi anemia (FA) is an inherited DNA-repair disease that may lead to bone marrow failure (aplastic anemia), leukemia, and/or solid tumors.

FA can affect all systems of the body. The types and severity of symptoms can differ widely from person to person. FA patients have an extremely high risk of developing squamous cell cancers in areas of the body in which cells normally reproduce rapidly, such as the oral cavity, vulva, esophagus, gastrointestinal tract, and anus. The incidence of head and neck cancer is 500-700 times greater in individuals with FA compared to the general population. In addition, FA patients develop these cancers at a much earlier age than people without Fanconi anemia. Patients who have had a successful bone marrow transplant and, thus, are cured of the blood problems associated with FA, are still at extremely high risk for these cancers. Regular screenings are critically important.

FA occurs equally in males and females. It is found in all ethnic groups. Research has added years to the lives of people with FA. Decades ago, children rarely survived to adulthood. Now, there are adults with FA that live into their 30s, 40s, and beyond. In late 2017, for the first time ever, there were more adults living with Fanconi anemia than children (according to FARF’s registry). This reflects an emerging population of adults that was not present even just a decade ago. This growth in the adult population could be attributed to the dramatic increase in survival following stem cell transplants over the last 20 years. As a result, more children are reaching adulthood.

For more information, guidance or if you would like to contribute towards much needed research please visit: www.fanconi.org

Our Income – Earthling SA

After the discharge at the hospital, we needed to gain a source of income again, we didn’t want our Non-Profit Organisation to provide it, as we wanted to use all of the incoming funds for projects. We jumbled around many ideas but decided on something that would suit the lifestyle that we chose. We developed a range of sustainable jewellery pieces that would provide us with enough income to sustain us while in recovery. We have since broadened our product range and business concept to focus on the sale of sustainable, cruelty-free solutions at markets and events. Our online shop gives our customers the option of supporting our business from afar, in turn supporting us not only financially, but allowing us to keep doing our non-profit work full time.