Monday, 18 August 2008

08/08/18: Pedal Joe arrives in Seville, Spain

Pedal Joe's contact while in Spain: +34 627795786

Having visited Seville 26 years ago during his first bicycle trip, when he travelled from Brazil to Spain to attend the Football World Cup, the Brazilian cyclist José Geraldo de Souza Castro, 51, alias "Zé do Pedal" (Pedal Joe), arrived today in this city, after completing another leg in his 17.000 km trip, which started on May 10th in Paris, France, passing through 20 countries in a pedal kart, given by the Dutch toy company BERG Toys, ending in June 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

During a nostalgic walk through the city, Pedal Joe visited the Mairena Stadium (where Brazil did all its training then), La Giralda, Plaza de España, and the romantic river banks of the Guadalquivir. "It was with great emotion that I revisited those wonderful places that remained imprinted in my retina until today. When we, the Brazilians, took leave of Seville in 1982, we left behind a legion of friends, and the warmth with which we were treated is still latent in the heart."

Not even the theft that the cyclist had to suffer, on the night of August 17th, belittled the joy of arriving in Seville. "I was quite sorry of having been robbed (besides money, the thieves took the tool box, the digital camera, the tripod, the kart's replacement parts and other personal objects), but the trip is just starting. I have already logged in 3050 km through three countries, and it's not a simple theft that is going to bring my spirits down. I regret only the behaviour of the Police (Guarda Civil) of the town of Gibraleón, who did not even bother to register what happened."

From Seville, Pedal Joe will go on to Algeciras, where, on the 3rd of September, he will take a boat to Marocco, starting thus the most difficult leg of his trip: crossing the Sahara Desert. During his trip, after France, Spain and Portugal, Pedal Joe will visit the following countries: Marocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo, Angola, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.

The Objective

The objective of the project is to raise peoples' awareness of two of the gravest problems affecting vision, especially children's vision, in the less developed countries: cataract and glaucoma. And to spread as well awareness throughout the International Community of the Lions Clubs International "SightFirst Program" launched by Lions in 1989 to battle preventable blindness and improve vision for millions around the World. An increasing number of Lions Clubs are taking advantage of this opportunity to collect eye glasses, to carry out eye and diabetes screenings, and to plan educational programs to orient the various communities so they become aware of the importance of vision and the impact that diseases like diabetes have upon it.

SightFirst has not only been stunningly effective but also startlingly efficient. On average, about every US$6 in donations has resulted in a person with vision restored or saved from blindness. "I find it fantastic that with the equivalent of a pack of cigarrettes and two cans of beer, the Lions Club is able to provide a cataract operation. If people knew this, I am certain that every single day there would be many more donations. That is why I embarked on this journey, because I believe in peoples' good heart and more and more people around the world every day are helping the work on behalf of the needy. My little grain of sand is being added to the construction of a more human and just World. I hope everyone will do his/her part because, as you are reading this, somewhere on this planet, several children are becoming blind... one child a minute... and they cannot wait!", says Joe.

SightFirst is especially helping children. In partnership with the World Health Organization, SightFirst has launched the world’s first-ever global initiative to combat childhood blindness. The project is creating 30 centers for pediatric eye care around the world.

Sadly, 80 percent of the world’s blind were needlessly without sight. Through SightFirst, Lions have prevented blindness by supporting cataract surgeries, helping to build or expand eye hospitals and clinics, distributing sight-saving medication and training eye care professionals.

Thanks to SightFirst, Lions have restored sight through cataract surgeries, prevented serious vision loss and improved eye care services for hundreds of millions of adults and children. To continue and expand on this initiative, Lions have launched the Campain SightFirst II - Lions Vision for All.

Each year hundreds of Lions clubs around the world hold vision and diabetes screenings, community education programs, eyeglass collections and other special projects in October as part of Lions World Sight Day (11th October).

CSFII has set out to continue and expand the extraordinary work of SightFirst, Lions worldwide program to combat preventable blindness and restore vision. Thus, acting locally but thinking globally, one of the great objectives of the Lions is to eradicate onchocerciasis (also known as "river blindness") in South America until 2010 and in Africa until 2020. Another objective is to eradicate trachoma until 2020.

Pedal Joe thanks the backing of BERG Toys, Foto Universitário, Buynet e Rosfrios Alimentos.

For more info:

Friends who have collaborated with the project:

Rosfrios Alimentos * supplements
BERG Toys * pedal go-kart
BERG Toys do Brasil * logistics
Deuter do Brasil * camping material
Foto Universitario * photographic material
Buynet * ISP - Internet provider
Albergues Privados do CAMINHO DE SANTIAGO * food and lodgings
CAMINHO DO SOL-Brasil * travel products
FERNANDA PAZ - MINDO FALCÁO * travel products
A special thank you to CL Brito Rocha, from Portugal and member of APLIONS, who is always calling me to inquire about the trip and supporting me morally.


"In the last 70 years, the World's population has tripled. The demand for water increased six fold. If the present patterns are not modified, in 2025 four billion people will not have access to water."

"Water: a drop, a life... preserve them. For me... for yourself... for our Planet..." Pedal Joe (Zé do Pedal)