PANAFRICAN CYCLE PROJECT
Long before purchasing our bikes and the necessary equipments for this trip, during the cold month of January in the south-east of England, Hannah and I sat behind computers and searched for a noble cause to raise money for. We had a few ideas and set criteria to be met, such as the recipient organization should be medically orientated and involved with education and development, they should possess the capacity use the aid provided, projects should be carefully designed and sustainable and finally the organization as a whole should ideally be run by local African people. The internet is full of various charities and organizations, all appealing to the generosity of potential donors with heart-breaking photos and video clips of people in some of the world’s poorest countries dying of severe starvation and preventable diseases or children working on the land instead of being at school. We spent day after day searching for the charity/organization that came closest to our ideal criteria and repeatedly came away empty handed. It seemed that our criteria were either too strict or that we weren’t looking in the right places. After days of deliberation and frustration, we had almost reluctantly agreed to settle on one the larger organizations meeting only some of our criteria such as the Red Cross or Médecins Sans Frontières (doctors without borders), as these organizations were well established and have a massive impact in the fight against disease, improving education and reducing poverty. This was not ideal by our standards, primarily because they were foreign aid organizations (foreign to Africa) but also we wondered how much our modest aim of raising £5000 would become available to the people we were aiming to help after all the expensive administrative processes were concluded in such large organizations. Many smaller organizations focused on one or two of our wide ranging criteria but usually from different stand points. i.e. funding temporary medical camps or building schools without clear plans for funding teachers’ salaries. But luck was on our side and through colleagues at work we were informed about a Kenyan-run non-governmental organization that was primarily involved with healthcare, education and sanitation: the OGRA foundation. The days that followed were very exciting as we researched this organization and found that it ticked many of our boxes in addition to providing other essential resources through projects that we had not initially discussed but were equally important to us. We met with a previous elective student who further aroused our excitement and we soon knew that we had found the organization and projects that we wanted to assist and be a part of.
Now that we are here and have seen the work of both ISMAT and OGRA, we are even more excited about their potential, and really couldn't be more confident that the money we are raising thanks to your donations is going to the right place.