Saturday, 13 March 2010


Nairobi started with a surprise, a big surprise, a great surprise. One of those that cheers you, big time.... As I was pushing through the last hundred meters of the final day of stage 3 and was entering camp, I saw a guy standing on the road holding a video camera. He looked familiar and when I got closer, I could not believe it! Gerard, my uncle was here waiting for me at the finish line.... What a great surprise! He had flown all the way from Paris to surprise me in Nairobi! Now that's what I call dedication! Gerard had also organised a nice guest house for us in a quiet suburb of Nairobi where I could rest properly and enjoy some quiet moments. We had so much to talk about that we didn't even know where to start. Gerard had been in Nairobi for a few days already and had used Jana to find out where the TDA camp was. Now I understood better this mysterious French man who wanted to meet me and had asked for the arrival details... Gerard also brought from France a full bag of chocolate and energy bars, some energy drink powder and a cycling shirt signed by family and friends with support messages written all over... 2 months into this trip you can imagine that having a family member surprising you in such a way is more than a joy, it felt so nice.

Up to now, I have been focussing on the day when I will see Jaana, my wife, next and that is at the end of month 3 at the Victoria falls, so this is a nice emotional bridge to April 15 when Jaana and I will rejoin. We have been happily married for 23 years soon and this is our longest ever time apart. I am very proud of the way Jaana has not only supported me in this trip but also participated every day in doing the blogs updates. I just send her the emails with the text and pictures, she does the blog updates and layout. It is a perfect team work, it has allowed us to be so efficient since it would be very difficult to update the blog directly from Africa with slow connections, but by proceeding this way, Jaana can benefit from our home super fast Internet once she has received the emails. So don't forget to compliment her as well, she has played a crucial role in keeping this blog interesting and updated regularly.

So today was our first bike donation day, and what a day it was! We gave out 60 bicycles to organizations scattered all around Kenya. The bikes are going to be delivered to these people by various means of transport, small trucks and even bush taxis. Some representatives of the organisations benefiting from the donations were present and it was very moving to hear them telling us in simple words what an impact these bicycles have had on their communities. These donations have become an integrated part of TDA and by now, they have achieved amazing results already.

One woman stood up in front of the TDA group and with a very shy voice told us how the 3 bikes they got last year had helped her community of HIV infected women to raise money. They use these 3 bikes to carry milk and vegetables that they grow to the nearest city where they sell their products. With this small income, they are able to look after themselves and their children. These women are rejected from society as is unfortunately often the case in Africa once their HIV status is made public and have no source of income or support from nowhere. They have decided to get together and fight back by becoming a small independent farming unit. But for that you need transport... and that is where our bike donation is so efficient. Last year 3 bikes have helped these women to survive and to look forward for another day. This year they will be getting 3 more bikes and will be able to grow their deliveries and maybe start improving their living conditions further. So guys, as I have repeatedly said before, this is the most efficient way to help, each one of you who have contributed to my fund raising initiative can be proud tonight. We really hit it on the spot with these bicycles.

A group of Masai women and children was also there to thank us and to entertain us as well. Many Masai people are also in need of assistance and in the southern parts of Kenya, these tribes are sometimes living in so remote areas that the only way to deliver any kind of medical support is with a bicycle. So the lady representative of the Masai explained how the TDA bikes had helped delivering health care and HIV information to such areas. She also thanked us the TDA participants to cross Kenya on our own bicycles and by doing so, changing the mentalities of people who tend to see bikes as the "vehicle of the poor".

The children sung and danced for us. I am always amazed at the natural ability of African people to dance in the most gracious way. It just flows and when you look at them, it feels so natural, so beautiful. Africa might be the poorest continent, but watching these beautiful children confirmed that it is definitely the richest in talent...

                                                 Gerard and me with the Masai women

                                 The Masais pierce their ears at an early age and enlarge the hole
                                 to fit all these decorations , men do it as well.
                             Gerard showing the pictures he just took to the delighted Masai woman.
                               Me symbolically handing one bike to the representatives of this
                               Masai tribe. The bikes will actually be delivered by truck in remote
                               areas of Southern Kenya to them later that afternoon.
                             This Masai woman leader came all the way from a remote area
                             of southern Kenya with 5 others to explain the impact that our
                             bike donations have had within their communities and to thank us
                             personally for that.

                     This lady brought some pictures to show us how her small community of HIV
                     affected women (herself included) were benefiting from the bicycles and how
                     they are using them to raise cash and fund schooling for their children.
                                                   Masai children performing a dance for us

                       We are giving away 60 bicycles here in Nairobi today. There will be a total of
                       over 350 bicycles given away this year as we make opur way to Cape Town.
                       I contributed to almost a third of that thanks to your support dear friends and
                       family! We can all be proud of that!
                        There are different models of bikes depending on the usage they are meant for.
                        Some bikes have a frame in front for inserting a rack, this will be for the
                        purpose of delivering medecines in remote areas for example, whilst others are
                        meant to transport people and have a strong rack at the back.
                                 This girl was the cutest of the group and very photogenic as well
                                             Young girls singing a Masai song while dancing.
                            The Masai children performing a dance in front of the TDA participants.

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