UPDATE: Wanstead student completing kayak challenge on foot after shipwreck

Ben Harris, 21, who is kayaking the length of the longest lake in the world

Ben Harris, 21, who is kayaking the length of the longest lake in the world - Credit: Centrepoint

A Wanstead student who aimed to become the first person to solo kayak across the longest freshwater lake in the world will complete his journey on foot after being shipwrecked. 

Ben Harris, 21, had completed 350km of the 672km journey across Lake Tanganyika in east Africa when he was hit by a storm in which he lost his kayak. 

After being stranded in the bush for a day, Ben was rescued and faced a 400km journey on foot, of which he has so far completed 160km, spending a week pushing through the Tanzanian bush. 

Having reached the city of Kigoma, a port on the northeast edge of the lake, Ben is now preparing to continue his journey and aims to set off again later this week. 

The challenge is in aid of the charity Centrepoint, which supports 15,000 young people at risk of homelessness every year by providing accommodation, teaching, and working to get them into education. 

Lake Tanganyika as seen from space

Lake Tanganyika as seen from space - Credit: NASA

The charity estimates that between 2019 and 2020, around 8,500 young people were facing homelessness in London and they expect that these numbers have increased during the pandemic. 

While this had been Ben’s first kayaking expedition, he is no stranger to adventure, having previously cycled from Wanstead to Barcelona and canoed with the national cadets in Canada. 

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“Growing up in London you’re too used to seeing and hearing about homelessness and me and my family have always felt strongly about helping out homeless people when we can,” he said. 

Sarah Squires, community and events fundraising manager from Centrepoint, said: “We are so grateful that Ben is taking on this challenge of a lifetime to raise money for Centrepoint and the homeless young people we support. 

“It’s a critical time for vulnerable young people as many have lost their jobs and are struggling to pay their rent.  

“With Ben’s help we can support young people on the brink of homelessness and those who are already without a stable home, and help them turn their lives around.” 

The money raised this year will go towards the Centrepoint hostels that provide homeless young people safe and stable accommodation, support for homeless young people’s physical and mental health and access to training and education. 

To donate to Ben visit his JustGiving page.