Tuesday, 9 September 2008

08/09/09: Pedal Joe arrives in Morocco

Pedal Joe's contact in Morocco: +212 55783251

The book PEDAIS DA ESPERANÇA (PEDALS OF HOPE), which gives a detailed account of the life and travels of Zé do Pedal (Pedal Joe), is being published and will be launched in December. In case you would like to purchase a copy, please write to: zedopedal@gmail.com. By buying this book, you will be collaborating to the success of Pedal Joe's current project. Thank you so much for your support.

Travelling at an average speed of 6 kilometers per hour, and doing about 50 kilometers per day, in a pedal go-cart, the Brazilian José Geraldo de Souza Castro, alias Zé do Pedal (Pedal Joe), 51, arrived at Rabat, capital of Morocco, bound for Johannesburg, South Africa, where he will assist at the Football World Cup "South Africa 2010".

Pedal Joe reached Tanger on Wednesday, arriving from Spain, after having crossed the strait of Gilbratar, and has already covered 320km. In Rabat he was received by the ex-governor of the Lions, Aicha Detsouli, and by members of the Lions Clube in Rabat, and, this morning, Tuesday, was received in the Brazilian Embassy by the Ambassador, Virgílio Moretzsohn de Andrade, the Vice-deputy, Luiz Geraldo Magalhaes Moraes, and the Counselor, Marcelo Marotta Viegas. In the afternoon he met the mayor of Rabat. Tomorrow, Wednesday, he travels to Mekines, Fez and Marraquech. Later, he will cross the Sahara desert, following the Atlantic coast, bound for Mauritania.

The objective of the trip is mainly to call the attention of the international community about two of the biggest problems that affect the vision of the World's children, especially in the poor countries, Cataract and Glaucoma, and to spread out the word about the great campaign of the Lions International Club: the SigthFirst program.

Since its launching in 1990, these are some of the accomplishments of SightFirst:

• distributed US$ 211 million for 896 projects in 90 countries
• provided 7,3 million cataract surgeries
• hindered the serious loss of vision of 20 million people
• improved the eye sight services for hundreds of millions of people
• constructed or it extended 300 clinical hospitals/sight infirmaries
• modernized 337 sight centers with equipment
• promoted the training of management for 115 installations
• trained 345,000 ophthalmologists, nurses and other ophthalmology professionals, and also local health professionals
• launched the first global initiative to combat infantile blindness in the world, in partnership with the World Health Organization
• the 30 constructed or modernized ophthalmological pediatric centers improved the lives of 71 million children

Control of Onchocerciasis (river blindness) and Trachoma:

SightFirst financed more than 65 million treatments of Onchocerciasis (river blindness) in Africa and Latin America since it formed a partnership with the Carter Center in 1999. The treatments of river blindness have transformed the lives and the communities in 12 countries of Africa and Latin America. In reality, in Latin America, the specialists foresee the eradication of the illness in 2010. The subsidy for the Carter Center is also focused towards trachoma, the main world-wide cause of preventable blindness. SightFirst is controlling trachoma in two million people in three countries.

Project SightFirst Action in China:

Concluded in 2002, Phase I of the program SightFirst Action in China, promoted by LCIF, financed 2.1 million cataract surgeries and established ophthalmological surgical units in 104 agricultural counties that previously had none. Phase II will approach blindness again on a large scale. A subsidy from SightFirst of US$ 15,5 million was complemented with about US$ 200 million by the Chinese government. The goal of Phase II is to carry through at least 2,5 million cataract surgeries, as well as strengthening the infrastructure of the ophthalmological units, creating secondary units in hospitals of 200 underdeveloped counties and provinces, and also in Tibet. To guarantee the continuity of the services of ophthalmological attendance for the vast and poor agricultural population, training courses of paramedics will be created in the occidental and northern provinces.

Pedal Joe will pass through the following countries, during the approximately 700 days that will take the trek, having in the end covered 17.500kms: France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo, Angola, Namibia, Bostwana and South Africa.

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