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On July 8 2012, Filipe Masetti Leite, a Brazilian journalist based out of Toronto, will set out on the most daring journey of the 21st Century. The second-generation cowboy will be riding two horses from Calgary, Alberta to his hometown of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The ride will take Leite through 12 countries in North, Central and South America - a 16,000 km trip that he estimates will take him two years.
"This has been a lifelong dream of mine. When I was a kid my dad used to always tell me stories about Aime Tschiffely's, who rode from Argentina to New York in 1925. My dad had always dreamed of doing a ride like this, and now I feel like I'm fulfilling his dream and my own," says Leite, who was named Filipe by his father because it means 'lover of horses'.
Leite is not only riding to fulfill a dream, he is riding with the hope that his journey will generate awareness about human rights issues throughout the Americas. Working alongside the Canadian NGO Journalists for Human Rights and The Long Riders Guild, the 25-year old video-journalist will be blogging, shooting videos and live tweeting his entire journey. Equipped with a GPS tracker he'll also be sharing every step of the ride on a comprehensive map. Leite is hoping that through his online platform he can share his personal experience as a long rider, but more importantly, he'll be able to shine a light on the people and human rights issues he encounters along the way.
"I want people to feel like they're on the ride with me, but I also want people who tune in to get a look at some of the serious problems happening throughout the Americas. You have to do something big to get people's attention these days and I think if I can get people's attention by doing something this crazy it's important that I use that opportunity to educate them as well," says Leite, who believes that because he is riding at a very slow pace - only 30 km a day- it will allow him the time to stop and truly connect with the people he meets.
Once Filipe arrives in Brazil, just in time for the 2014 World Cup, he plans to produce a feature-length documentary about the entire experience.