Cycling towards a healthier Africa–Africa Classic
A cloud of red dust could be seen billowing above the horizon. Mount Kilimanjaro stands proud in the distance. The hum of spokes turning swiftly in its wheel is interrupted by the thunderous cheering of children along the dirt track. Enthusiastic cyclists emerge, gliding across the vast plains of the African Savannah amidst stones, shrubs and wildlife. Giraffes pause momentarily to view this spectacle before proceeding to chomp on their meal. Karibu sana (Welcome to) “Africa classic”, a one-of-a-kind cycling adventure undertaken by professional cyclists and mountain bikers from Netherlands to raise funds for the Amref flying doctors. The first four editions of the Africa Classic (previously known as Kenya Classic) were a great success and have since raised almost € 2 million. The annual event takes place in the Amboseli region of Southern Kenya (and hence was called Kenya classic until recently). This year however, Tanzania played host to Africa Classic due to security concerns in Kenya. This unexpected turn of events saw me donning the cap of communication expert at the country office in charge of covering the event, sharing stories and articles from the field. Some of the highlights of the event and pictures are shared below.
Over a 6-day period, 79 cyclists covered almost 400 kms through some of the most beautiful and rugged terrain Tanzania has to offer. The cyclists rode throughout the day and in the evenings camped out under the stars. Their energy and spirit was infectious and a big salute to these men and women for their perseverance, grit and determination to complete this difficult track while raising funds for a noble cause. During the event, the cyclists were also afforded the opportunity to experience first-hand the impact of their fundraising activity by visiting Amref project sites in Moshi where they learnt about Amref’s work in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and about female genital mutilation (FGM). Welcomed warmly by Masai people clad in bright red and blue shukas with heavily beaded jewelry, the cyclists were entertained with a display of the traditional dances. In the end, this year’s event managed to raise over € 500,000.
For more information on next year’s event or to find out how you can sponsor a participant, please follow the link: https://www.amref.nl/amref-flying-doctors-actueel/evenementen/africa-classic
Picture courtesy: Arthur Wieffering
A special thanks to my colleagues from Amref Netherlands Marije Beekhuizen and Ylana Leijendeckers for sharing stories and translating testimonials from Dutch.