Land Rover can be really proud

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Land Rover can be really proud of what we are achieving as a team. The recent Fight Malaria activity in the Niger Delta and around Bamako in Mali was truly remarkable in terms of the wonderful gratitude – mums singing and dancing in appreciation for the long-lasting nets.

Best regards and thanks as always for the support – we couldn’t do it without you. Kingsley and the expedition team

Humanitarian Action – Saving and Improving Lives Through Adventure

Given that this Land Rover supported expedition left from the Cape of Good Hope and travelled up the West Coast of South Africa which is not a malaria area, it was important to immediately commence the Teaching on the Edge campaign in which the expedition distributed mobile libraries to remote schools, and in Namibia around Luderitz, Walvis Bay and Ruacana.

The One Net One Life malaria prevention campaign in which long-lasting insecticide impregnated mosquito nets are distributed to pregnant mothers and to children under the age of five got into full swing in Northern Namibia and Southern Angola, as did the Right to Sight programme in which spectacles are distributed to the poor sighted.

The gratitude from the pregnant mums and those with babies under five is overwhelming as is the instant delight when a poor sighted person is able to read or do hand craft or simply weave a mat. In Angola the expedition distributed thousands of pencils, pens and exercise books to remote bush schools, many of which don’t even have desks.

At Centro de Saude Boavista, a downtown clinic in the centre of Luanda mosquito nets were distributed to pregnant mums and babies. This very successful event went out on local radio, TV and press, the story of a South African led expedition caring for the people of Africa. At Ponta de Padrao at the mouth of the Congo where Diogo Cao first erected a stone cross in 1482 we distributed mosquito nets to pregnant mums with babies and continued to do so as we made our way across the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cabinda and Congo Brazzaville.

In Gabon with the help of the Wildlife Conservation Society we used theatre and costuming to add a conservation message to our Teaching on the Edge programme. At the Albert Schweitzer institute in Lambarene Prof Sadoo agrees that the best results that they’ve had in preventing malaria have been through the distribution of life saving mosquito nets, proving once again that we and the sponsors who are supporting this, the most exciting expedition ever, in support of malaria prevention, are on the right track.

Working in the mud and rain in Cameroun we continue to place life saving nets in the hands of pregnant mums and mums with children under the age of five in high risk malaria areas where there are no regular health services, Teaching on the Edge materials and spectacles to the poor sighted. In Nigeria we are part of a campaign to distribute over 200 000 long-lasting mosquito nets, and a continued supply of mobile libraries and hundreds of spectacles to the poor sighted.

The expedition Scroll of Peace and Goodwill endorsed by Nobel Prize laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela remains very much part of our humanitarian effort, now gathered over 4000 signatures and messages in support of malaria prevention. These include goodwill messages from the drivers and teams of the 347 Landies that escorted us out from the Cape of Good Hope 128 days and 16 427 km ago.

The Scroll has gone on to be messaged by government officials, health workers, prime ministers, governors, administrators and chiefs. In Kaokaland the Scroll was endorsed with a simple red ochred handprint from a near naked Himba mother, in Luanda by a member of the Dos Santos family and by the chief at Ponta Padrao where in 1482 the Portuguese navigator Diogo Cao erected a stone cross at the mouth of the great Congo River.

On the island of Principe in the Gulf of Guinea the much travelled Scroll was messaged by top government ministers and in Gabon by the director of the Malaria Research Institute at the Dr Albert Schweitzer memorial hospital on the Ogooue River.

At a media function in Libreville additions to the Scroll continued as the South African ambassador and the embassies of Sao Tome and Principe, Egypt, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Conakry and the Democratic Republic of Congo all added their signatures and messages.

Added to the endorsements in support of malaria prevention are those of ordinary people as well. In the forests of Cameroun a simple pygmy signed the historic Scroll. In Nigeria it has been endorsed by High Chief Edem Duke, the Royal Chiefs of the ancient city of Calabar and the governor of Cross River State who wrote: “We commend your wonderful humanitarian effort aimed at the mothers and children of Africa. We are proud to be part of this initiative.”

At a banquet in Lagos the First Lady of Lagos State endorsed the humble expedition scroll as did the Roll Back Malaria team who joined us in a 10 000 mosquito net fight against malaria in Nigeria. Dodging the wild chaotic traffic of Lagos the three expedition Landies made it to the King’s palace for an official signing and distribution of mosquito nets to pregnant mums and babies. In the Kingdom of Badagry, his Royal Majesty the Akran wrote:

“This is the greatest mission of the 21st century in the fight against malaria in which you have taken on the No. 1 killer.” His majesty gave us the freedom of the city and signed certificates that made us pilgrims of historic Badagry.

In Ouidah, Benin to the accompaniment of drums, singing and dancing in the sacred forest his majesty the voodoo king Mito Daho Mindji Kpassenon wrote “I do appreciate what you are doing for peace and malaria. We voodoo people thank you for this great work.”

In Ghana the Scroll is messaged by the Paramount Chief of Aflau, the regional administrators and the honourable Kofi Osei deputy minister of tourism. In Accra the director-general of education writes: “AKWAABA!!! Welcome to Ghana, the land of people who love peace – we cherish and appreciate your concern for the welfare of ordinary Africans – God bless you – BRAVO!!”

Dr Bernard Kwazi Glover who is assisting us with our One Net One Life campaign against malaria writes: “This is a wonderful venture and adventure. Malaria has been endemic in this part of West Africa for centuries – in fact in colonial times the area was referred to as the ‘white man’s grave’ – caused by malaria. This venture will make a difference.”

Yao Dzide writes that “Malaria is still a major killer and that the long-lasting mosquito nets we are distributing will drastically help in reducing malaria, especially in children.”

The South African ambassador in Ghana at a dinner party in our honour wrote this message: “Thank you for flying the flag of our Rainbow Nation in a noble mission of saving and improving lives.”

Joined by Lesley Sutton and Rory Beattie from Land Rover and a team of journalists we continue our Land Rover supported humanitarian work in Benin and Togo and in Ghana we distributed mobile libraries, spectacles and over 6000 life saving nets. Down on the gold coast of Ghana we’ve had great success in using the historic forts and castles as distribution points for the One Net One Life campaign.

Each pregnant mum and those with children under the age of five received a stamped Africa Outside Edge ticket which they exchanged for a life saving mosquito net. It’s a great humanist turn about giving out these nets in the same courtyards and on the same steps from which tens of thousands of slaves were exported to the new world, part of the horrific trade in human flesh, so its good that we distributed life saving nets from these same historic locations. J.K.W. Kwaw, the officer in charge of the world heritage site Elmina Castle, build by the Portuguese in 1482 (10 years before Columbus discovered America) added this note to the Mandela scroll: “Elmina Castle, the first of so many European settlements on our coastline is proud to receive the One Net One Life expedition. Malaria, the scourge of sub-Saharan Africa ought to be eradicated completely. Your expedition is an outstanding example of human endeavour.”

The One Net One Life campaign continued to Cote d’Ivoire. Abidjan, the gleaming high rise commercial capital of Cote d’Ivoire, sometimes referred to as the New York or Paris of West Africa. It’s quite a culture shock for the Outside Edge Expedition. Fancy cars driven by rich Lebanese, chique girls in tight jeans, we stretch the budget for a few items at an air-conditioned supermarket. Mashozi ogles at the imported French cheeses, hams and salami’s.

I spend time at the wine tasting counter. Before the crisis this city must have been a gem. There’s still a bit of tension and roadblocks around and the elections have been postponed again. The contrast here between rich and poverty stricken is incredible, ankle-deep mud and six-lane motorways, corrugated iron shacks and 30-storey buildings, Paris fashions and rags.

We meet John Segbo who heads up a NGO called Stop Malaria. There is a malaria crisis here and since the French were evacuated and civil unrest hit the country the organised malaria control programme has virtually stopped. Malaria is the No.1 killer here with approximately 300 people mostly children dying every day. We move in to assist by distributing long lasting insecticide treated PermaNets to maternity clinics, outlying schools and villages.

Through the Land Rover speakers John Segbo translates the malaria prevention message in French. The expedition team does demonstrations on how to use and care for the nets. There’s singing, dancing and drumming.

War torn Liberia and Sierra Leone proved to be one of the expedition’s greatest challenges as we battled through the endless mud of the wet season. Tough on man and machine we were still able to continue our fight against malaria, reaching people who had suffered horribly during the war in which rebels had savaged communities and hacked off limbs.

Many of the remote villages we visited had only recently returned from refugee camps in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. In Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone, Dr Baker head of the National Malaria Control Programme, endorsed the Scroll with these words of thanks: “This expedition shows the real African brotherhood spirit of one country caring for another. We extend our sincere and heartfelt gratitude.”

In a massive One Net One Life effort, the expedition detoured from Conakry on the coast of Guinea inland to Djenne in Mali where as part of the end of Ramadan celebrations, hundreds of mosquito nets were delivered to the maternity clinic and river side homes – all within close proximity of the Djenne mosque World Heritage Site, the largest mud building in the world.

 After Djenne the expedition followed the Niger River through its 20 000 square kilometres inland delta to mythical Timbuktu. With the highest rainfall in years the delta has “swallowed” many villages and as the waters now recede malaria is rife. Using the expedition inflatable boats we travelled from village to village, placing long lasting nets in the hands of pregnant mothers as well as spectacles to the poor sighted. In the poor areas of Bamako nets were distributed to thousands of pregnant mums via well organised events at maternity clinics and schools. The media followed these events with keen interest, a malaria prevention expedition that had been to Timbuktu and back was certainly news worthy. Imagine the excitement as we sat around a small TV set with bunny ear aerials watching the Springboks bring home the cup.

With over 20 000km and six months behind us this Land Rover supported humanitarian expedition moved back to Conakry on the coast of Guinea where we worked with the local Ministry of Health, the Malaria Control Programme and the Department of Education to continue to fight the scourge of malaria in Guinea. Radio, press and TV got behind the campaign and Mr Isaac Kekana the ambassador of South Africa to the Republic of Guinea joined us at a maternity clinic and a deaf and dumb school to assist. He wrote these words in the Mandela Scroll: “The humanitarian donations to Africa’s poor of mosquito nets makes us all proudly South African. Viva the expedition, viva! Viva the expedition, viva!” Today we leave for Guinea Bissau – we will keep you posted – THANKS LAND ROVER FOR THE SUPPORT IN CARING FOR THE PEOPLE OF AFRICA