Category Archives: donate

Please Support the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

SCFM logoAt 5:30am tomorrow morning 56 riders from around the world will gather to make final preparations for the 2013 Tour d’Afrique. At 7:00am we will move from the Cataract Pyramids Resort, where we have been staying for the last week, to the Pyramids of Giza, where the official starting ceremony will take place. At 8:00am we will be cycling!

This is the 11th annual Cairo to Cape Town race and expedition. It covers almost 12,000 km and ten countries in 121 days (97 cycling days, 24 rest days), or an average of close to 125 km a day. Over 430 riders completed the Tour in its first 10 years.

I am riding to raise money for the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania (click on SCFT on the top menu bar for more information).  The aim is to raise US$50,000 to establish a day treatment centre.

Please show your support for the Foundation, as we start the race, by making a donation.

And please share this with your friends and colleagues. Send them an email, suggest they follow the blog, encourage them to make a donation and make comments.

Cheers,

Alan

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Midan Tahrir

2012-12-29 14.15.35We are off to Luxor on the sleeper train tonight. For the last three days we have played tourist in Cairo. On Friday we spent most of the day at the Egyptian Museum, a massive jumble of some 250,000 artifacts at the north end of Midan Tahrir. It could use some curating and a deep clean but the collection is impressive. Also, the Tutenchamun exhibition is in residence. We then wandered back into Zamalek looking for an internet café and some dinner. We ended up in a place called Arabica, where you can see that there is a literary and cultural life here. Yesterday we followed some of the traces of the Jan 25 revolution – in and out of Madin Tahrir and around the neighborhood then down to Abdeen.  The tent city is still very much in place. The old party headquarters is still a burnt out shell. All streets leading south out of the square are still blocked by massive concrete blocks. There is some great graffiti (see photo). Half the shops are boarded up and battered. The Pizza Hut just off the square has reopened but the McDonalds is still boarded up and closed. It has taken a massive hit. There is a real Mad Max feel about the place, as if it is about to slide off the edge. Today, we took the motorway out of the city to go to Giza to see the Pyramids. After crossing the Nile we passed mile after mile of ghost-like, half built apartment blocks. Then big piles of rubbish, some burning, began to fill the outside lane of the motorway, before it abruptly ended – like a Mad Max car-chase where the bad guy drives off the end of an elevated road under construction.  The contradiction is that while the fabric of the built environment is unraveling in many places (not as badly where the rich live of course), there is a contrasting sense of civil society re-establishing itself – rather than unraveling in tandem.  The weather here is mild and very pleasant. There should be lots of tourists. But there aren’t. So the touts and hawkers are desperate and even more competitive than usual. One taxi driver wanted an exorbitant rate we were unwilling to pay. But instead of turning his back and telling us to fuck off he laughed and pointed us to the Metro, which we then took. In spite of the anxiety we have sensed in most people we have met there has almost always been an underlying sense of kindness. They want to help. They want things to change. Somehow they seem to have hope.

It’s a great season to think of others.

So please think of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania this Christmas.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

Cairo day 1

DCIM100GOPROAt 4:00am the storm-trooper-trolley-dollies turned all on the lights, marched down the aisle smashing down the tray tables and snapping ‘breakfast time’ in several languages. I have been woken up in more pleasant ways. Out the window I could just make out the Nile in the dark. We were getting close to Cairo. At 5:20 we landed and half an hour later we were waiting for our luggage. The 737 from Dar to Cairo was full of people going on the Haj or to other places further east. (I noticed a couple of guys with Halliburton backpacks on their way to Bagdad. According to the writing on the backpacks, Halliburton was winner of the 2011 quality service provider award. I guess waterboarding is a recognised service these days. At least they were probably not bothered by the 4am wakeup. Used to it – or inflicting it.) Since most people on the plane were connecting to other flights there were only five or six of us waiting to collect bags. It still took an hour. But everything arrived intact.

After we had checked into the hotel I went and found a taxi to start the process of getting my Ethiopian and Sudanese visas. It took about an hour and half to find the Ethiopian Embassy. They had moved to a new building. And it took a while to find somebody who knew where the new place was. But we finally find it and the process was very easy and civilized. I filled in a form, attached a photo the TdA letter and $30 and handed it to a guy sitting behind a big desk. He asked a few questions and told me to come back at 2pm. I did and now have the visa. The Sudanese visa looks like it will be a bit more of a scramble. I went to the Sudanese embassy in Garden City, a bizarre place that look s like the side entrance to city prison. There is a small, glassless window about 18 inches square with three 1-½ inch diameter stainless steel bars crossing it. You had to attract the attention of and then talk to somebody through this. Turns out the Garden City Embassy is closing and no longer in business. I eventually found out that the new embassy will open for business on January 2 in al Dokki. OK. We wait.

By now it was mid afternoon. After a short nap we went to the north end of Zamalek to a café called Maison Thomas, est. 1922 for dinner. Good pizza, no beer. A real bit of French Riviera circa 1935. Lovely architecture, ambiance and food.  Then home for a good long sleep.

It’s a great season to think of others.

So please think of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania this Christmas.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

No cycling today

santa on a bikeMerry Christmas everyone! Today is a day of rest. Sort of. My wife and I were actually up before the kids today. A first for at least ten years. We got up did the stockings then took the dogs for a walk at cocoa beach. Their Christmas excursion. It was low tide. Lots of crabs to chase in the tide pools. Then back home for breakfast and the ritual of the presents under the tree. We were back at the beach by 11 for a swim – and are still there. The kids are on their i-pads and I am catching up on Christmas messages.  Liz is still swimming.

It’s a great season to think of others.

So please think of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania this Christmas.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

 

Last minute arrival

alans cycle shirt-CADThe cycling jerseys have finally arrived. What a saga. The jerseys arrived in Dar early in the morning of Wednesday December 12. It has taken until now to get them released from customs. They were released at 16:22. At 17:00 the office closes for Christmas. Brinksmanship. When the jerseys arrived I was told that I had to pay about 660,000 shillings in duty and tax (for a few cycling jerseys mind) or about $450. An outrageous amount I thought. We have diplomatic status so anything we receive should be tax and duty free anyway (this is called PR06 status – we have pre-approved PR06 papers on file). We have never had any problem bringing stuff in in the past. I mentioned this and they kindly said they would re-assign customs status. They did. They now asked for 1.1 million shillings or over $700 (for a few jerseys). Go figure. It is Christmas after all. Customs was upping the ante. They did not want to see the PR06 on file. They would only accept a new PRO6 document for this package specifically. A PR06 has to be signed by the Foreign Minister. To make a long story short, the new PR06 was delivered at 16:05. The package was released at 16:22.

38 minutes to spare – or I would have been riding topless.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

Early Christmas

mary porterAbout 3 nano seconds after I opened my computer at 5:47 this morning I received a skype call from my sister. She lives in Canada so it was only 9:47 the night before for her. In my still groggy, pre-morning-ride state I was broadsided by three fifty- something women screeching like 6-year olds (see the video on facebook). But they had good cause. Mary Porter and Kirstie Carter, two members of Pam and Company and the two ladies in the photo, had just surprised my sister by showing up at her house singing Christmas carols and carrying a huge cheque. Mary and Kirstie had participated in a vendors event that always gives a portion of profits to charity. They had convinced the organisers of the event that ‘Cycle 4 Sickle Cell’ should be the designated charity this year. And it was! So at 5:47 this morning three screeching women (that’s my story anyway) presented me with a cheque for $3,444.39 by skype. Fantastic guys! Thanks so much. But next time, call around lunch time.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

65k before breakfast

mudwaveI did a tough ride before breakfast this morning. There had been a lot of rain over night and there was still a strong wind. Part of the ride was on a dirt track. Now mud. As luck would have it a big dump truck passed just as I was negotiating a big bog. It roared through and hit me with a mud tsunami. Lovely. There must have been some limestone in the mud because it hardened on my bike like concrete. The strong headwind made it hard to maintain a speed of 18 kmh. I felt good though – and mud washes off.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania