In Tandem with Africa and Asia

A teacher's journey over three continents on a tandem bicycle
8 minutes reading time (1641 words)

A BIG thank you!

Nearly two months after arriving back permanently in England’s Green and Pleasant (& wet) lands, I’m delighted to note that we have now met or should I say SMASHED our fundraising target. Including gift aid, Beyond the Bike has raised more £115,000 for its partner charities, thanks to YOU!! So where has that money gone, you might ask…

This is a question I was getting regularly back in 2008 in my previous job as a city economist as billions were being wipped off property & share prices. Fortunately, I can give you a clearer answer this time! First thing to stress is that you’ve haven’t paid for any my trip, which was fully funded from my own savings, alongside some help on kit from my generous sponsors. So 100% of the donations have gone to the charities. For those of you with an attention to detail, you may have noted from the website how the money was going to be split and a brief overview of what the charities that we’re supporting do. Below is a bit more detail!

So 60% (c £70k) goes to Beyond Ourselves, the main partner charity and one that hopefully you will have heard lots about during the trip. Many of you who joined me in Zambia were lucky enough to visit some of the community schools in the Copperbelt Region that they work with, in particular Kawama School in Kitwe. In July, the 3rd sixth form Group for Cranleigh School (where I’m teaching again next week) visited the school and were pleased to note that it is functioning really well and the teachers & students enjoying their new classrooms!

  

Kawama School's new classrooms (from top L, clockwise). The old classroom j31; Building on the new one, August 2011; Cranleigh & Kawama Students paint a mural, July 2012.

So Kawama School cost less than £25k to build, raised through Cranleigh School’s own charity efforts. Thus, the money raised by Beyond the Bike could potentially be used to be build nearly 3 more schools. While some of the money will be set aside for Beyond Ourselves’ forthcoming capital projects, it will also be used to help fund those children that are not yet part of their child sponsorship programme. As a reminder, for £12.50 per month per child, the programme provides:

 - a meal each school day

- basic medical care

- paying the salaries of the teachers, cooks, nurse and security guard

- buying a uniform for the child

- purchasing ongoing school resources such as books that we all take for granted.

 As Beyond Ourselves continue to work to find more sponsors, the money will be used to help ensure that all the kids at their partner schools can continue to get an education. £70k could ensure an extra 100 kids could go to school for another 5 years. The same number would cost more that £13m at a private boarding school in the UK.

What about the other charities. Here’s a quick summary from Alive & Kicking, Right to Sight & UNICEF.

Alive and Kicking are a social enterprise that manufactures sports balls in Zambia & Kenya for children to play and creates skills & jobs for adults. What I loved about their programme back in 2010 was its focus sustainability & we visited the Lusaka stitching factory in 2011, it was breaking even for the first time. This means that it isn’t relying on charity money to keep going. As a result, the guys at Alive & Kicking were really please to tell us that our support has been pivotal in allowing Alive & Kicking to establish a new social enterprise in Accra, Ghana:

  • The funding will help Alive & Kicking to train an initial 30 people how to stitch balls, enabling them to support themselves and their families. 
  • The new workshop will provide 50 fair paid jobs when it’s up and running and will operate health education programmes in the community. 

As well as this, balls will also be donated to Beyond Ourselves’ schools and other youth projects in Zambia.

  

Kids enjoying an Alive & Kicking Football; One of female workers in the Lusaka stiching factory

Right to Sight was founded in 2006 by Irish eye surgeon, Dr Kate Coleman, in order to address the needless blindness crisis in Africa: there are over 7 million people needlessly blind and over 20 million more suffering low vision. Whilst this might not stop you stoking a tandem, getting on with everyday life is almost impossible.

The main cause of this is the dire shortage of eye surgeons on the continent. There is less than 1 eye surgeon per million people in Africa compared to the European average of 1 eye surgeon per 50,000 people.

In order to find a sustainable solution, Right to Sight try to address the problem of over 65% of African surgeons emigrating. It works to empower and support African eye surgeons to stay and work in Africa and eliminate needless blindness.

One of the core supports that Right to Sight provide is an intensive training course in Small Incision Cataract Surgery (SICS). Cataract is the most common cause of needless blindness and can be corrected by a 10 minute operation which costs as little as $20 using this technique.

A surgeon trained at a cost of $1000 by Right to Sight in this technique can perform over 2,000 sight restoring operations every year. So the money raised from Beyond the Bike, there is the potential for surgeons to ultimately perform over 20,000 sight restoring operations every year, year after year!

 

 

 

Right to Sight trained surgeons at work at a hospital that I visited  in Kenya; UNICEF often gets to areas other charities can't: I met these kids in South Sudan

UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation for children, working in over 180 countries protecting the rights of the most vulnerable and hard to reach children.

Beyond the Bike will help UNICEF’s Sport for Development projects in Africa, continuing to making sure that even in the most remote areas, children are given access to the sport and play needed to have the positive childhood that will help them survive and thrive.

 Finally, 10% of the funds were set aside to support project that I encountered en route that I thought make a positive, sustainable, difference in the areas they work with.

As a result, donations will be made to the following projects:

Mechanics for Africa provide training school for motor mechanics in Zambia, giving young Africans skills for life. One of the issues that I encountered on my trip was the high level of youth unemployment. Whilst education is a starting point, organization that provide practical skills & jobs are just as necessary.

Similarly In Kenya, I stayed with a successful commercial farmer in the Mt Elgon region, Bob Anderson. Although of Scandinavia descent, Bob & his doctor wife Bea are fully committed to their community  - one of the few remaining commercial farmers in the area. They have already set up an orphanage, 2 schools & a hospital. Their current project is a vocational training centre. Beyond the Bike’s donation will enable training next year of 4 young adults.

  

With 10 year old Helen, an orphan at Bob & Bea’s Orhanage. Inside the vocational training centre where young disabled adults are being trained to sew.

Also in Kenya, I stayed with Joseph Halake, an inspiring East Africa who had worked & travelled throughout Africa. He was passionate about education and I learnt a lot about the issues on the continent during my time with him. He showed me around Ronda primary school in Nakuru. Amongst other things, he helps to run the Enki project – focusing on helping secondary school children through their education (only primary education is free in Kenya).

Of course, Africa isn’t just about people: its also one of the last great haven for Wild Animals. Looking at sustainable ways to promote human & animal co-habitation is a crucial part of Africa’s future. Dr Max Graham & his local team at Space for Giants is making great strides in this field in the Laikipia region of Kenya. 

 

Space for Giants are helping Elephants live more harmoniously with Humans in Kenya

In Northern Uganda, an area previously ravaged by the civil war & Lord’s Resistance Army, Girls Kick it help provides healthy and economically sustainable opportunities for young girls and women living in internally displaced persons camps. As well as a football programme, GKI helps to equip women with business and management skills through social enterprise projects.

Finally, and closer to home, I was lucky enough to hook up with British sport legends Lawrence Dallaglio & Freddie Flintoff who were leading their own group charity ride back to the UK from Greece & generously invited me to join them for a large chunk of their ride. It was a reminder that it's not just people in Africa need support.  Money raised from their trip, through their own foundations, will help Cancer Research UK funded ICGC project on prostate cancer genetics & fund child physio & rehab centers at the Great Ormond Street Hospital.

For anyone interested, I'll be giving lectures on the trip on November 2nd at Cranleigh School, Surrey and December 12th at Schroders in the City of London. let me know on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you'd like to come along.

 

Beyond the Bike II, Zambia 2013
Stage 16: A tour of France & Home...

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