Current Projects

Current Projects


Livingstone, Zambia – April 13, 2012

TIA (This is Africa)

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt on our journey through Africa it’s that nothing ever goes according to plan and you have to be willing to adapt to circumstances whenever they change on you.

It was no different as we arrived in Livingstone on Thursday with the prospect of two days of relaxing and a bike donation on Friday ahead of us. Upon arrival a few final arrangements had to be made for the donation but a big surprise awaited when I met with Graham Nel from Safari Par Excellence… Sometime during the week the princess of Zambia had passed away and has luck would have it Friday was scheduled as a national day of mourning and Saturday being her funeral meant we were not allowed to have any function on any of our two rest days. So instead of starting of our double rest days with a chilled afternoon the donation ceremony was moved to Thursday afternoon.

However, we’ve learn to roll with issues like these without any problem and in record time Graham and Sharmaine Barry from The Waterfront had organised all the stakeholders and media to make their way to the Waterfront that afternoon and the ceremony took place without any further trouble.

The ceremony

As riders arrived after three long days in the saddle of approximately 160km, 180km and another 160km they headed straight for the bar to put their feet up while gazing across the Zambezi. The fact that the ceremony took place at the bar therefore meant several of the riders were all too happy to attend.

The mayor of Livingstone as well as representatives from African Impact, the Happy Africa Foundation (THAF), school headmasters and the Ministry of Education were present as we donated 25 bikes to this initiative. With the help of African Impact and THAF several schools were identified to receive bicycles to help their students. The bikes go to these schools who in turn will distribute them to children who have to walk several hours to school every day. Because of the challenges these children face their schooling is often neglected and with the issuance of the bikes they will be able to get to school easier, better their education and thereby their future prospects in terms of employment and looking after their families.

Secondary school education is often neglected because of transport issues and with these bikes several children will be able to go to school for longer than they would have without the bicycles. The bikes are not donated to the children but to the schools in order to redistribute the bikes to children who need them year after year and to make the project sustainable.

After the ceremony TDA riders and staff were treated to a lucky draw where they won several prizes sponsored by local companies. Prizes included white water rafting, bungee jumping from Vic Falls, elephant walks, lion experiences and river cruises.

About African Impact and THAF

African Impact was started in 2004 at Antelope Park in Zimbabwe. They are the largest on-the-ground facilitator of socially responsible volunteer projects in Southern and East Africa and have been working in partnership with the local communities of Livingstone since 2006. They provide assistance in long term sustainable development initiatives to a wide range of projects including, education, medical assistance, social welfare, sports coaching and training for many local communities.

African Impact was instrumental in the establishment of the Happy Africa Foundation and provides much of the charity’s resources, in terms of staff, logistical support and its
administration of all of its projects. THAF is managed by Hannah Kerrigan and is registered as a charity in the UK and as a NGO in South Africa and Zambia.  African Impact is able to facilitate the implementation of all donor funding, again minimising a significant expense to the Foundation.

The charity looks to find sustainable solutions to the challenges that local African communities face. THAF and African Impact partner with local communities to conserve and protect the environment, wildlife and cultures in areas where the Foundation is involved.

Thank you

Without the hard work of several TDA riders none of the donations during this year’s trip would have been possible. A special thank you goes to Walter Luetolf, Herman de Grave, Beverley Coburn, Natalie Howard and Paul ten Brummelhuis who donated generously to the TDA Foundation as well as all other riders who have been raising money for worthy causes on their own.

Thanks also go to Safari Par Excellence, the Zambezi Waterfront, Livingstone Adventures, Zambezi Adrenaline Company, Lady Livingstone, Abseil Zambia and Lion Encounter for facilitating the ceremony and for the prizes they donated to TDA riders and staff.

A special thanks to Carla White for the use of her photos.

— Catharina Robbertze

Arusha, Tanzania – March 15

Donating bikes to Women in Action

Upon arrival in Arusha the fourth bike donation of the tour took place as 20 bikes were donated to Women in Action (WIA).

WIA started with 16 women who in 1993 wanted to address the HIV/Aids pandemic in their community and support the women and children who were most impacted by the disease. Since its creation they have helped more than 4800 individuals by providing home-based care, village and community banking facilities. They have worked tirelessly to empower the women and youth of their villages in order to educate the general community about the disease and its consequences and to protect those children who are already suffering because of it.

The bikes donated to them will mostly be used by their volunteer educators and home-based care counsellors to access their beneficiaries and provide educational programmes in the broader Arusha community.

Nairobi, Kenya- March 11

Sunday’s bike donation ceremony in Nairobi was attended by Wheels of Africa (WoA), who were providing the bikes, the two recipients of the bikes ( Arrow Web Hospital and Kijiji Cha Upendo), Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) Kenya, who are working with WoA to develop Nairobi’s first bike hire business for local university students and EcoTourism Kenya, who have recently formed a partnership with Wheels of Africa as well.The ceremony was organized and hosted by Wheels of Africa who we are worked with for several years now.  Twelve bikes were donated to Arrow Web Hospital, my old friend Bramuel Simuel was there to receive the bikes.  Arrow Web has grown it’s health outreach program significantly since we first met them in 2006 and we’re happy to continue to play a role in that programs growth.This year marked our first donationto Kijiji Cha Upendo, an organization that provides financial and logistical support for families who have adopted orphans. Kajiji received 12 bikes which will be used by their out reach workers.The student entrepreneurship group SIFE Kenya also attended the ceremony to give a report on a pilot project they have started with WoA and 2012 TdA Rider Peter Hille.  The project aims to start the first bike hire business in Nairobi to offer people an alternative way to commute to school.

Starting next semester the students of Strathmore University will compete is a business plan competition to design a profitable business model for the bike hire scheme.  Winners will be given the opportunity to start a bike hire business with bike from Wheels of Africa.  Initial plans and tests indicate the hire a bike for 100Ksh ($1.20 USD) per ½ day provides transport that is cheaper than using local mini buses and would provide enough income to make the bike hire business profitable.  More information on the bike hire plan in future posts.

Finally Kahindi from EcoTourism Kenya spoke about the opportunities he sees to make Nairobi a truly bike friendly city and the need for increased partnership between local bike organizations and Tour d’Afrique.  Kahindi is passionate about cycling as a means of transport and recreation in the city and has been working hard with government officials to increase awareness about the laws that protect Kenyan cyclists on Kenyan roads.

It was a ceremony full of promise and optimism to be sure.  It seems the cycling landscape in Nairobi is rapidly improving as partnerships are formed between like minded individuals and organizations.  I think big changes are coming to the Nairobi Cycling scene, stay tuned.

The Tour d’Afrique Foundation supports outreach workers in various countries in Africa by providing bicycles to them so they may travel more efficiently and serve more people.  Studies have shown that a health outreach worker can reach up to 5 times as many patients by using a bicycle and they can by foot.

The Foundation relies on donations from people like you.  Donate to the Tour d’Afrique Foundation.

Related links:

Bahir Dar, Ethiopia – February 15th

Bahir Dar was also the location for our second bike donation ceremony.  Hearing about our arrival and our donation to the Health and Anti Malaria Associaltion (HAMA) the Amhara Regional Sports Commissioner and Local Cycling Club arranged for 20 local riders to meet the tour about 10 km before the city and escort us in.  Upon arrival at the hotel each rider was presented a rose from the Tiret Cycling Club as well.

At noon, 25 riders and guests from the Sports Commission, Local Cycling Club and HAMA gathered for the donation ceremony.  Local media was also present. The ceremony began with a short speech by the Amhara National sports commissioner, Ato Yayeh Addis, who expressed his gratitude and hopes that next year the Sports ministry would be able to sponsor a few local riders to join the tour from Cairo to Cape Town! He concluded by presenting a certificate of appreciation to tour leader Paul McManus.

Gondar, Ethiopia – February 11th

8 days of some of the toughest riding on tour brought the 2012 Cairo to Cape Town riders to Gondar, Ethiopia.  Eight days is a long time to ride without a rest day and doing it through the heat and rough roads of southern Sudan makes it even more of a challenge.  Riders and staff alike arrived tired and more than ready for the two days of rest scheduled here.

Tired but Willing

Gondar is the location of our first bike donation of the tour and despite their exhaustion and long to-do lists that include eight days of dirty laundry, bike repairs, e-mails to catch up on and sightseeing interests in the city, 18 intrepid riders chose to join us for the ceremony hosted by Arbatu Ensesa Primary school.  Many of these riders had also generously donated money so that, in addition to our bike donation, we could also contribute towards school uniforms for 104 disadvantaged students at the school.

Linking Schools

The school uniform donation was organized by Link Ethiopia and 2010 TdA rider Tony Nester, who has been working with the school through Link Ethiopia for 6 years now.  Link Ethiopia’s primary mission is to link schools in the UK with schools in Ethiopia so that they may learn from each other, host student exchanges and support Ethiopian schools.  Tony, a UK resident, has helped the school to build a classroom block, two toilet blocks and provide uniforms to underprivileged students in his 6 year history with the school.

The Ceremony

At 9 am a bus picked us up from the Goha Hotel and took us as close to the school as it could.  There are no roads that reach the school so we had to walk the last 2km or so.  The descent down the steep hill to the school was tough on the tired legs of riders and as we descended thoughts of having to climb back up the hill after the ceremony were on everyone’s mind.

We arrived at to the clapping and smiles of 100 students and teachers welcoming us to the school.  After some quick introductions the children were organized into rows according to age and riders spent the next 45 minutes handing out uniforms, book bags and notebooks to excited school kids.

While the donation of a uniform is a simple thing it can have big impact on a student’s motivation to learn. Uniforms are required at Ethiopian schools but many children cannot afford them.  Receiving a uniform and book bag helps them fit in with their class, increases their confidence and pride in attending school. For these children it would also be the first set of new clothes they have ever received.

After the handing out of the uniforms we had our bike donation.  Two representatives for other schools were present to receive the bikes.  In total we donated 10 bikes, 5 to each school, to be used for bike education classes and the schools.

Coffee and Dancing

While the bike and uniform donations were happening a few teachers from the school were quietly roasting coffee in a small pan over charcoal.  When the beans were fully roasted they walked up to each rider and let them smell the freshly roasted beans before pounding the beans in a mortar into a fine powder.

After the donations were complete the riders were served coffee and snacks.  Next, despite a malfunctioning tape player and crackling speaker system, music was played and six children from the school performed some traditional Ethiopian dances.

Finishing Up

We finished up with a quick tour of the school compound, including the gardens which supply food and income for the children.  In total the event lasted almost three hours, a valuable amount of rest day time for riders to give up, but a rewarding experience.  A big thanks to all the riders who attended and donated to the school.

The Hideout, Vikramgarh, India – February 10th

A total of 45 bicycles were donated through various donors – including the 20 bicycles from the Tour d’Afrique Foundation and the Indian Adventure riders. It was organized by Hemant Chhabra who runs the Hideout – where we spent our final night on the road before Mumbai.

Hemant first set up the 5 acre Hideout – a farm / guesthouse / cottage / conference centre / eco centre 24 years ago – buying land that had been all but cleared of the teak trees that once filled the area. He set about slowly learning how to regenerate the area, eventually landing on a philosophy of planting fruit trees and letting nature take care of the rest – allowing the birds to do the seeding to grow the forest further, and to only plant minimal amounts of teak and let the birds do the rest. The result is a vibrant mish mash of things – 23 species of banana plants, star fruit, curry leaf, palm trees, beetle nut tree, teak, coconut, pineapple, lime, lemon, and so on.

Through the Hideout he began working with the local villages and trying to learn from them, while also addressing some of their needs. In recent years, along with a journalist from Mumbai named Simona Terron, he started the Bicycle Project. They collect unused, and disguarded bicycles from people in Mumbai and distribute them to school children in and around Vikramgarh.

The children can only keep the bikes as long as there grades are kept up, and the bikes are kept at the schools in the off season, and passed on to other kids over the years. Amazingly Hemant says there has been a 25% increase in school attendance since he began the Bicycle Project – so it is working. Children can get to school with ease, and can ride a bike, and play like children should. Since the project began they have distributed approximately 700 bicycles.

Several of the children came to the Hideout to pick up their bikes – these bikes were newly purchased ones, so they were given to the students who had excelled in certain subjects. We then went to their school where a general assembly was held in the school yard, under the shade of the trees.

A few speeches, and some bicycle tricks by Vinay, and we set out, happy to know that the Tour d’Afrique Foundation may help a child get to school, get an education, and go on to be prosperous as an adult.


Ottawa, Ontario


From the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to the Atlantic’s edge in St. John’s, Newfoundland, they are riding.  Some come as far as Australia and New Zeeland, others from the United-States, and of course there are Canadians amongst their ranks.   Seven of them will do this Epic journey all the way; others will come and go for different segments of the Tour, sometimes meeting up with old friends from previous tours along the way.  These men and women from “Tour d’Afrique” are quite simply amazing.  They average 110 kms a day, broken up by a few rest days here and there, for a total of 92 days in traversing North America from west to east on bicycles.  But this is not the only reason why Tour d’Afrique riders are amazing.  Through the Tour d’Afrique Foundation, with the help of some remarkable riders who have used their adventure cycling across continents to raise money, and through personal donations, they are supporting a number of charities and NGOs in the process.  One local organization that has benefited from these incredible efforts is Trips for Kids who has been selected as one of the recipient for the fund raised during their North American Epic Bike Tour.  Just like cyclists from Tour d’Afrique who enjoys cycling not only because it keeps them healthy but because it helps introduce them to new friends and adventures, and expands their worldview, Trips for Kids is trying to bring that very experience to at-risk youth in Urban areas by introducing the sport of cycling to kids that would otherwise never have this opportunity. On their way, Tour d’Afrique riders met with Marilyn Price, founder of Trips for Kids, in San Francisco California and later on during the tour with members of Trips for Kids ChicagoChapter. On August 1st, they visited with the Trips for Kids Ottawa, and later on toward the end of there journey, they will be meeting volunteers from the Yarmouth, NS chapter. TFKO volunteers, friends and kids met them along the way last weekend as they head into Ottawa. Some joined them early in the morning and rode with them from Merrickville, others met them in Stittsville or Kanata and rode to Bells Corners.  There, they were welcome with a BBQ for lunch at the Trips for Kids Garage, before riding the beautiful Ottawa River pathway to downtown where they stay for a day of rest before continuing on their epic journey.  While at the Garage, riders presented Cat Weaver, Trips for Kids Ottawa Program Director with a generous donation of over $700 that will go a long way in ensuring the program bikes are in good shape and available for more kids to ride. Please visit our photo gallery to view photos of that day. – from Trips for Kids Ottawa website

Chicago, Illinois

On July 17th our intrepid NAE riders pushed on to Chicago. But what a cool welcome we’received! 50 smooth and shady kilometers of history along the Illinois & Missouri Canal and an escort into the city with the good people from Trips for Kidsmade for an easy day in the hard summer humidity.The canal, once a Native American portage route between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, was developed to support Westward expansion in the mid 1880’s. Acting as a lifeline for industry between the East and the developing Midwest, the canal was key in transforming Chicago from a small settlement into a booming metropolis. Today known as the I&M Bike Trail the canal follows the original canal seamlessly weaves between the ruins of America’s original iron boom and serine wooded landscapes.The students from Trips for Kidsare awesome! Meeting up with us for a 10 k jaunt into Chicago, this group of 13 to 18 year olds rode like champs. The TFK program is designed to introduce young men and women to cycling and support confidence building and environmental awareness though practical skills, and by simply having a good time.With huge smiles the entire way, these students laughed off the heat by enjoying time together on bikes. As we wrapped our ride together at the TdA lunch stop several of the students were surprised the ride was so easy.“We’re not done right,” asked one of the students. “I can’t believe that’s it, we gotta keep going!” A randonneur is born! Keep in touch with us, we’ll show you the world.

We’re posting up in Chicago for a day and making plans to soak up the White City. Some of us are headed to the famous Museum of Science and Industry, others are off to take in the uber posh eateries of Chicago’s North Side, and the Cubbies are playing this afternoon at Fenway. Yep, it’s epic. Cheers!

The TDA Foundation made a $US 500 donation to the Chicago chapter of Trips for Kids and later received this letter from them.

`Dear Tour D’Afrique-

Thank you for your donation of $500 to the TFK Chicago Voyagers’ programs.

TFK Chicago Voyagers is dedicated to providing adventure learning services to at-risk youth. We work with those of extremely limited means (92% low income) and provide outdoor experiences to help them become healthy, well adjusted adults. Our youth come from the most challenging neighborhoods in the Metro area and from agencies which work with those in high need. Your gift will help us achieve our goal of serving 500 youth in 2011.

The boys had a lot of fun riding with the tour and we hope to have the opportunity to do it again. When asked how the youth benefit from our program, one youth worker said: “I think it’s great for the kids to work with professionals and experience nature. They developed self-esteem by overcoming challenges (physical challenges as well as relationship challenges). They also have a greater respect for nature and more interest in exploring nature and new relationships.” With the help of generous people such as you, we will continue to serve more youth each year. On behalf of the youth we serve, a hearty thank you for your helping hand.`

Cape Town, South Africa

This year, in Cape Town, South Africa, with the assistance of the Bicycling Empowerment Network, the Tour d’Afrique Foundation donated 30 bicycles to the Cape Flats YMCA.

Michelle Ceasar and her team of Patient Advocates work with adults and children who are infected and affected by HIV/Aids in Mitchell’s Plain, Strandfontein, Samora Michel and Kosovo areas.

Walking long distances each day to visit their patients, these unsung heroes of the community were delighted to receive the donation from the TDA Foundation, which was made possible through the fundraising efforts and generosity of the TDA 2011 riders.

Windhoek, Namibia

TDA sponsored a donation of 60 bicycles to HIV/AIDS home based care volunteers in the Kavango and Caprivi regions. The bicycles will be distributed to volunteers who are coordinated by Catholic AIDS Action, Namibia’s largest outreach support organisation for people living with HIV/AIDS.

The volunteers are often the main source of help for people living with the disease in rural Namibia, providing counselling, basic medication, sanitary supplies and referral services. Most volunteers walk, but with bicycles they are able to reach their clients more easily, spending more time with them and providing better quality care. More distant clients can also be reached, extending the network of care.

The Bicycling Empowerment Network Namibia (BEN Namibia), which has been supported annually by TDA since 2004, coordinated the bicycle delivery. BEN Namibia’s main work is the establishment of community based bicycle shops in partnership with local grassroots organisations, with 26 shops now up and running.

Livingstone, Zambia

As the sun dropped into a late afternoon sky and sparkled across the Zambezi River just a few kilometres upstream from the mighty Victoria Falls, Graham Nel and his team at the spectacular Zambezi Waterfront arranged the finishing touches for the TDA Foundation bike donation in Zambia.

TDA riders were treated to a vibrant drumming, dancing and singing performance by the Jolly Boys (and beautiful women!) of Livingstone who set the scene and ambiance for what was arguably one of the most magical bike donation ceremonies we’ve had.

Gracing the occasion was Mr. Chika, the Livingstone District Commissioner as well as Dr Hara and Dr Chipandwe from the Ministry of Health, who oversee all clinics and related community outreach programmes for the district.

With the assistance of the Zambezi Waterfront, THAF and African Impact were identified as a partnership who could make excellent use of bicycles in 8 home based care  programmes located in Libuyu, Maramba, Linda, Nakatindi, Dambwa, Natebe and Mwandi.  Rachael Wood, Laura Goble and Lucy Pollock told us a bit about the work they do.

“African Impact was instrumental in the establishment of the Happy Africa Foundation (THAF) and provides much of the charity’s resources, in terms of staff, logistical support and its administration at all of its projects. The charity looks to find sustainable solutions to the challenges that local African communities face. THAF and African Impact partner with local communities to conserve and protect the environment, wildlife and cultures in areas where the Foundation is involved.

Home based carers work within local communities surrounding Livingstone, visiting sick patients in their home. In many instances these patients cannot get to a clinic and the palliative care, advice and support volunteer care workers provide is greatly appreciated. African Impact volunteers accompany carers on some of these visits, to provide further support and basic medical provisions to patients. The home based carers will be able to use these 16 bikes to enable them to visit more patients each day and more easily get around their local communities to conduct patient visits.”

In his welcoming speech, District Commission, Mr. Chika said “This donation could not have come at a better time than now when the entire globe is faced with all sorts of calamities and civil strife.  Allow me ladies and gentlemen to pay special tribute to Mr. Henry Gold, Managing Director and founder of Tour d’Afrique for choosing Zambia and Livingstone in particular to receive such a valuable donation, of which we can’t assess its value because of its multiplier effect to the people of Livingstone.”

Christine from Maramba home based care and Mr. Simasiko from Libuyu home based care accepted the bikes on behalf of their colleagues.

The ceremony concluded with a lucky draw for TDA riders who had raised money for the TDA Foundation. Facilitated by the fabulous Sarah of the Waterfront, prizes ranged from helicopter rides to bungi jumps, from river cruises to lion and elephant encounters.

An awesome time was had by all at this very special place.

From all of us at the TDA Foundation, thank you…

Mr. Chika, Dr Hara and Dr Chipandwe – for gracing the occasion.

Rachel, Laura and Lucy from African Impact and THAF – for facilitating the distribution of bicycles to the home based carers – and to home based carers Christine and Mr. Simasiko who received the bikes on behalf of their colleagues.

Bhukans – for supplying the bicycles at an excellent price.

Maureen Saileti and Elias Sakala from SAB Miller – for sponsoring the beer and soft drinks.

Graham Nel, Sarah and team at the Zambezi Waterfront – not only for hosting and facilitating the bike donation, but also for arranging tje amazing prizes from various activity service providers in Livingstone. Thanks go to Safari Par Excellence, Livingstone’s Adventures, Zambezi Adrenaline Company, Lady Livingstone, Abseil Zambia, Lion Encounter and the Crocodile Farm.

Tour d’Afrique riders – who invested so much time and energy in raising the funds to make this donation possible.

A note of thanks from African Impact…

Hi Theresa, Graham and Sarah,

Hope you are all well?

We hope all your cyclists had a great weekend and some relaxing down time in Livingstone!

On behalf of African Impact and The Happy Africa Foundation, we just wanted to say thank you again for the kind donation of bicycles from Tour d’Afrique; I’m certain these will be very gratefully accepted by the community home based carers and assist them greatly in visiting sick people in their homes.

Lucy and I will be putting together some guidelines for each committee in terms of using their bikes, as the District Commissioner mentioned in his speech, it is important that the bikes are stored safely and looked after to ensure their long-lasting impact in assisting the communities of Livingstone.

We’ll send you some pictures when we do formally hand these over to the committees.

Graham and Sarah, thank you for all your hard work in preparing for and hosting the event! The Waterfront is a fantastic setting.

Have a great week all!
Best wishes,
Laura Goble
African Impact – Livingstone
Project Manager/Volunteer Coordinator

Lilongwe, Malawi

Johnny (CPAR),Cristiano (TDA), Joseph (SABMiller), James (CPAR)

Lilongwe, Tuesday, April 5th, 2011.

Everything went perfectly at the donation ceremony of 60 bicycles to 3 local health care NGOs.

Africycle, an organization that brings bicycles from Canada and refurbishes them to be either sold or donated locally was our “link” to them. Johnny Perrott, their representative, arrived early at Mabuya Camp, ready for our event and to join us for 4 days of riding on our way to Lusaka, in Zambia.

We had 10 bicycles (the other ones had gone to villages far from the capital city) and SAB Miller arrived with a freezer full of delicious Castle beers, and also arranged some nice snacks. A large group of TDA riders  was present and the rain brought some other campers to our little celebration.

Partners in Health in a partnership wih APZU (Abwenzi Pa Za Umoyo), developed a project in Malawi that combines treatment for HIV patients with comprehensive, community-based health care and programs to combat the conditions of extreme poverty in which disease takes root, including hunger and lack of access to clean water and decent housing, schools and livelihoods. They received 20 bikes from the Foundation.

Canadian Physicians for Aid Relief (CPAR) – an organization started by Henry Gold (the same man behind the Tour d’Afrique) in the late 1970’s, was also present, represented by Johnny and James. CPAR undertakes initiatives on incomine generation, natural resource management, food security, water sanitation, emergency relief and health care. They received 10 bikes for their health care workers.

Emmanuel Relief & Rehabilitation International assists communities worldwide through the agency of their local churches. They received 30 bikes.

Health care workers in remote areas of Africa often have no option but to walk from village to village to visit their patients and end up spending more time on transit than actual clinical work. As was explained during the ceremony a bicycle can increase the number of people visited by these workers and volunteers by up to 11 times. We were also told that, once these workers start using bicycles on their daily routine, they loose a lot of weight and notice a huge increase on their quality of life.

These numbers help us to show how efficient bicycles are as a mean of transportation. Bicycles are efficient, cheap, fun, healthy and clean. Bicycles do not get stuck in traffic jams, do not support the oil industry and do not pollute the air we breathe. As we also learned from the speeches, bicycles also save lives in many different ways.

Ride your bike!

Arusha, Tanzania

The journey towards our rest day in Arusha marked the first leg of the tour where relentless rainfall turned the dirt roads into a slick stretch of sticky mud.  The rest day couldn’t have come soon enough the riders and staff of the tour.  The promise of showers, laundry, and cold drinks make each rest day a blissful experience.  After the dirt was scrubbed from our bodies, and the splattering of soil washed from our clothing, it was time to attend to more serious business.  For Tanzanian women living with HIV/AIDS, our arrival couldn’t come soon enough.

In partnership with the Tour d’Afrique Foundation, we conducted the largest bicycle donation of the tour to date.  We gave 60 bicycles to groups who help women living with HIV/AIDS to help themselves and others.  A positive test for HIV carries with it the burden of ostracism in Tanzania.  The stigma associated with the virus prevents women from leading relatively normal and productive lives.  There exists in the Arusha area a group of determined women who are working to change that reality.  These women have formed a group and they call themselves UMATU, which is an acronym for a phrase that translates as, “Love and Hope.”  With assistance from CPAR-Tanzania and CPAIDS, the women of UMATU have been using micro loans to start successful small businesses.  UMATU also conducts important community outreach programs to help other women living with HIV/AIDS to lift themselves from poverty and social exile.  They work to educate women in small villages about the realities of AIDS and its prevention, and to inform them about treatment options that are available to them.  Their successes and determination demonstrate to others that one can live with the virus while providing for their children, and that AIDS is not the diagnosis of death that it once was.

Conducting outreach work requires travelling between small and remote villages.  On foot, it is difficult to travel more than 10 to 15 kilometers per month when providing outreach services.  With a bicycle, these women can travel as far as 90 kilometers.  This increase in mobility dramatically increases the number of people who can receive assistance.  Without a bicycle, perhaps 20 to 100 people can be reached.   Using a bicycle, it is possible to provide services to 60 to 800 individuals per month.

The warm greetings and genuine appreciation we felt at the donation ceremony were all made possible by generous donations to the Tour d’Afrique Foundation.  I’d like to pass on a heartfelt, “Asante Sana” to each one of our donors.  If you are considering a donation to the TDA Foundation, know that 100 Euros will change the life of a woman who will go on to change the lives of many others.

Visit to Arrow Webb Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya

While in Nairobi I had a chance to visit our friends at Arrow Web Hospitaland tour their facilities.  Arrow Web is a private hospital that serves very low income people in the Kayole and Soweto slums of Nairobi.

The TdA Foundation donates bikes to Arrow Web each year that are used by outreach volunteers to carry medicine and provide outreach education services to the Kayole community in Nairobi.

Though run by a local NGO, the hospital works closely with the Ministry of Health to provide medical care and oureach services in the area.   The hospital serves about 84,000 people in its 16 sq km catchment area with 6 full time staff and 39 outreach volunteers.

While there are some great private hospitals in Kenya that serve the wealthy population the governements health infrastructure is quite weak and there is a distinct lack of medical care for low income households.  Arrow Web is one of the few hospitals that serve the slums of Nairobi. They are underfunded and understaffed but what they lack in resources they certainly make up for in dedication and enthusiasm.

I met with Bramuel S.J., the hospitals project coordinator and one of the original 3 founders of the hospital.  The story of the hospital’s beginnings is quite interesting.  Bramuel was working for a local NGO working in HIV AIDS outreach.  Through his work in the slums of Kibera he quickly realized the need for more than just AIDS outreach.  He left the NGO and along with two friends raised funds to start a two room clinic in Soweto in 2005.
A two room clinic to serve the 75,000 plus population of the Soweto slum!  All funded by local efforts from mostly small donations.  To me that is not only impressive but inspirational.
Today the hospital has moved to a 14 room facility and has recently been given land by the Ministry of Health so they can expand even further. The hospital serves about 250 people daily, provides child immunizations clinics on Saturdays and provides outreach services through it’s volunteer force.

We look forward to working more with Arrow Web in the future and watching them continue to grow and serve the people of Nairobi.

Nairobi, Kenya

On our rest day in Nairobi we held our third bike donation ceremony of the tour.  Rebecca Cherono of the Great Rift Valley Development Agency (GRVDA) was there to help organize things.  In total we donated 60 bikes to 3 different organizations around Nairobi.  The GRVDA is a wonderful group of people whose main focus is educating people about the resources and services available to them from the government and helping them to understand the process to access those resources.  The Kenyan Government earmarks money each year to be used for community development but it often goes unused and winds up being redirected towards other needs (or someone’s pocket!).  GRVDA is helping to change this through its education programs.  Spend a few minutes with Rebecca and you’ll be amazed at the way such a simple program has changed lives in Nairobi.

At the donation ceremony, twenty five bikes went to Arrow Web Hospital, represented at the ceremony by Bramuel S.J., Project coordinator for the hospital.  Arrow Web is a small private hospital founded by Bramuel and two friends in 2005 to provide medical care and outreach services to the underserved populations in the Soweto/Kayole slums of Nairobi.  This was the second time we’ve donated bikes to Arrow Web, who will give the bikes to health outreach volunteers who travel around the community providing health education and carrying medicine to those who can not travel to the hospital.  The outreach volunteers also act as the eyes and ears of the hospital, watching for disease outbreaks and other health issues that may arise and reporting back to the staff at Arrow Web.  I had the opportunity to visit the hospital this year and though there are very understaffed and under resourced, I was impressed at the level of care they are able to provide and the number of patients the see in a week (more that 1500!).  More about my visit to Arrow web in another blog.

Twenty bikes went to Maji Mazuri School and Orphanage run by a small group of dedicated teachers and represented at the ceremony by Wanjiku Keronyo, program director for the school.  I visited the school last year and was impressed at the work going on there.  They house about 100 children and teach another 150 or so that walk to the school each day.  The school is surrounded by gardens and fields growing much of the food served at the school.  In the school barns are every kind of farm animal you can imagine:  geese, rabbits, chickens, cows, horses etc… all providing valuable inputs to keep the school running.  This year they’ve even added a biogas system do do the cooking in the kitchen!  The bikes we donated to Maji Mazuri are used by the teacher for errands and travels back and forth from Nairobi (30 kms one way) and by the children to get to and from school.  Even though close to Nairobi the school is in a rural area and transport is very difficult.  The teachers are especially sensitive to the need for young girls to learn to cycle, something that is not too common in Kenya, so many of the bikes will go to the girls at the school.

The third group we donated to this year was Vijiji Children’s Home.  We donated 15 children’s bikes to the home.  Some of the bikes were small bikes for very young children and others were for older kids.

The ceremony started with a some wonderful singing and dancing from the girls at Madji Mazuri.  Traditional Maasai songs and poems about national pride and empowerment were recited.  There were several riders present:  Bram and Bram, Chris Fenar and Lindsey had all fundraised to make this donation possible and they did the official ‘handing off’ of the bikes.  The ceremony closed with another round of songs from the girls.   The event itself was short and sweet, but the impact of those bikes will be long lasting.

Mumbai, India

On Sunday February 20th, in conjunction with the Dirty Wall Project, 40 hand cycles were donated by Tour d’Afrique to deserving recipients, those with severe disabilities ranging from amputations to severely deformed limbs, in a touching and colourful ceremony in the Saki Naka district of Mumbai. Some recipients came from tribal areas in the back of a truck (a three hour journey without cushions on bumpy roads). The truck was too large to drive into the slum so these people had to make their own way from the road, through gravel and garbage, pulling and pushing themselves to get to the location where the ceremony was being held. Others live in the city and were brought by friends and relatives but all were thrilled to be receiving their bikes.

The founder of the project, Kane Ryan, reports that one of the recipients, Kamala Balappa, has since started her own small business selling small goods using her new hand cycle. She phoned very excited about her new business. He recently went to the tribal village of Lavhali and spoke to three men who received bikes. All were very excited to have mobility around their village. The distance between villages can be between 5 -10 km’s and in 45C heat so these men are very thankful to be able to cover that distance much quicker than before.  And just recently he was passed my a man in one of thehand bikes in Saki Naka. Months ago Kane first saw this man dragging himself along the ground, so to see him cruising the streets with dignity was pretty amazing and made the ceremony worth while.

Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

It was a short ride from Gondar to Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.  Just two riding days and a total of 180 kms or so.  Bahir Dar is located on the banks of Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile and a popular tourist attraction because of its proximity to the Blue Nile waterfalls and for the ancient coptic monesteries on the islands in the middle of the lake.  An easy 60 km day into Bahir Dar meant riders had plenty of time to relax and we held our fifth annual Bahir Dar costume party on the evening we arrived.  This years theme was ‘Where are you go?” and riders came to the party decked out in all kinds of crazy apparel.

On the rest day we held our second bike donation ceremony of the 2011 tour and our first donation ever in Bahir Dar.  The TdA Foundation donated 20 bikes to the Anti Malarial Association (AMA) for use in their out reach programs in the region.  The AMA was founded by Abere Mihretie in 1998 in response to a severe malaria outbreak in the western part of Ethiopia.  They deployed hundreds of volunteers to distribute anti-malarial drugs, bed nets and provide education on the control and treatment of malaria.  Their approach was so successful that several years later the AMA, in response to requests from various communities, decided to expand its programs to include other critical health issues in the country.

Today the AMA has five main focuses:

Anti-Malaria: AMA works closely with the Ministry of Health to distribute medicine during outbreaks and holds community education sessions, using film, drama and printed material, about malaria prevention year round.

HIV/AIDS outreach:   AMA hosts education sessions through peer networks and provides care and support for orphans through its various youth centers

Sanitation and Hygiene:  AMA pioneered the first pit latrine development program in Ethiopia that is now widely used by the Ministry of Health.  The organization also teaches communities how to improve traditional water sources and dig protected wells.

Reproductive Health:  AMA works with Kabale Health Workers (KHWs) to provide pre and post natal care and education in rural areas.

Climate and Health:  AMA works with South Dakota University and Columbia University to develop climate models to predict disease outbreaks.

AMA works in five zonal offices that support 480 volunteers in 39 Woredas (The health system in Ethiopia is divided into 9 Regions, each region is divided into Zones and each Zone into Woredas.  Woredas are futher divided into Kabeles.  A typical Kabele will have around 500 households with an average of 5 people per house hold).  Each AMA volunteer is responsible for a population of about 2500 people.

The bikes we donated will be used by AMA volunteers to travel to the communities they serves and provide various health education services and interventions.  We were very impressed by both the commitment and organization of the AMA and we look forward to expanding our relationship with them in the future.

If you’d like to find out more about the Anti Malaria Association or the Tour d’Afrique Foundation you can contact Foundation director Paul McManus at [email protected], or visit our website: and visit our foundation page.

Gondar, Ethiopia

The  riders and staff reached Gondar without incident on Friday the 11th of February.  We had two rest days in the ‘White City’, a well deserved period of rest following a rough 8 day stretch on dirt roads in the deserts of Sudan.

We held out first ever bike donation ceremony in Gondar thanks to the hard work and cooperation of 2010 TdA Alumni Tony Nester and UK based NGO  Li