The six days’ event organized by Amref Flying Doctors in The Netherlands in partnership with Amref Health Africa in Uganda was flagged off by Professor George Kirya, the advisory council Amref Health Africa Uganda on February 4, 2018 at the great lakes in Bamunanika town in Luwero district and ended at Bakuba Airstrip in Murchison Falls National Park.
However, it was not an easy task for the cyclists to comb through the dusty bumpy marram roads in the hot weather. But they drunk lots of water enhanced with salts to keep them hydrated. Four of the participants got injured and had to be flown back to Netherlands for surgery. As Bertine Pries in charge of advocacy for Amref health Netherlands testifies.
“The hot weather made it a tougher event .It became hot and drier as we moved away from urban areas. Remember we were coming from a snowing country and suddenly we plunge into an extremely hot weather of as high as 460C,” explains Bertine who is amazed on how she managed to ride 125 kilometers per day.
To take part in the event, participants had to raise 5,000 euros (about sh22 million). The cyclists sacrificed to raise the money for the big cause where Uganda directly benefits. Some confessed having saved for a year while others approached family members, friends, organizations, schools asking them to fundraise for them.
One, Mieke Fraussen, 49 from Belgium made 300 bracelets out of glass pearls and silver sterling and sold each at 25 euros to raise about 600 euros.
The group Chief Executive Officer Amref Health Africa, Dr. Githinji Gitahi said by February 9th the cyclists had raised 508,884 euros; an equivalent of sh2.3 billion. Dr. Githinji said the money they raised could support 500 families in Africa with Uganda inclusive.
During the event, cyclists visited a number of Amref Health Africa projects along the way. For example the team visited St. Martin Primary school in Kyebando, maternal and child health project in Nakaseke and interacted with the health workers, visited maternity and palliative care wards. They also visited Nakitoma health center where Amref usually set up a pop up clinic for safe male circumcision, malaria and HIV testing.
While at Nakaseke hospital, 15 year- old Bo Van Burgsteden, the youngest participant was privileged to name a newborn baby after him. Bo holds a Bicycle Mountain Cross (BMX) in Netherlands and takes the eighth position among his age group.
This article was first published HERE, by the New Vision on 16 February 2018.