Wednesday, 21 January 2009

11/01/09: Pedal Joe arrives in Dakar, on his way to the World Cup 2010 in South Africa

Pedal Joe's contact in Senegal: +221-778029819

Eight months after having left Paris in a pedal kart (built and donated for the adventure by the Dutch company Berg Toys -, the Brazilian José Geraldo de Souza Castro (Zé do Pedal), 51, arrived at Dakar (capital of Senegal) thus finishing the Paris-Dakar leg of the trip, after having covered 6500 kilometres, which took him exactly 1140 hours.

The Brazilian travelled through France, the French Route of Santiago de Compostela, crossed Portugal from North to South, returned to Spain, crossed Morocco, Eastern Sahara, Mauritania and, finally, Senegal.

During that time, Pedal Joe was homaged in Portugal, received from a group of gypsies a proposal to exchange his kart for a horse (proposal refused), and gave lectures in schools. Being asked by a Senegalese Television journalist if the trip was difficult, Pedal Joe answered: "No… It was child's play… I leave with my toy at seven in the morning, and at the end of the day I have pedalled 30, 40, 50 and, sometimes, up to 100 kilometres".

The most difficult part of the trip so far has been crossing the Sahara Desert. After having crossed the Tropic of Cancer, Pedal Joe found on his path, besides poisonous snakes, scorpions and a burning sun, the frightful terrestrial mines that are spread about in the sands of the desert up to the Morocco-Mauritania border. "It has been a difficult week and very tense… knowing that I could not leave the asphalt for whatever reason; I was at times scared and even somewhat stressed". Fortunately, with the proper circumspection and precautions taken, nothing serious happened.

From now on, other problems await Pedal Joe: the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that already forced 300 thousand people to run away from their own homes, many of them looking for shelter in forests and refugee camps, a situation considered for by the Red Cross as an humanitarian catastrophe. The war in the D.R. of the Congo, which dates back to 1998, worries humanitarian organisations such as the UN, the Red Cross and other groups. The UN keeps in place 17000 soldiers to try and keep the peace. About 2 million people have so far died in this war, without knowing peace… that is still far from being a reality.

To avoid these and other problems, such as the cholera epidemic that devastated Guiné-Bissau since the end of May of last year, Pedal Joe will make small alterations to the script previously elaborated. One of the great concerns in this trip is precisely the tropical illnesses.

From Dakar the cyclist will travel towards Mali, on the way he will pass through the region of Tabacounda, where Oncocercosis (river blindness) is one of the Senegal's biggest eye sight problems. Later, Pedal Joe will go on to Burkina Faso, where he will attend, between the 5th and the 7th of February, in Ouagadougou, the '14th All Africa Conference - Ouagadougou 2009: WORK MIRACLE AGAINST POVERTY'. It will be organized under the High patronage of the highest authorities of the country, covered by several medias, and in presence of representatives of all African and friend countries (ASIA, EUROPE, USA).

The objective of this conference, in addition to profits provided to the country which organizes it, is to further establish bonds between African people, strengthen friendship between the members of African countries, and consolidate African brotherhood and also strengthen the role of the civil society in development.

The Francophone Regional Institute of leadership training is being held from February 3rd to 5th, 2009 at hotel SOFITEL Ouaga 2000 in Ouagadougou, in margin of the 14th Conference of African Lions. This Training Institute aims at preparing African Francophone Lions for managerial duties within the club and the district by developing their competences in the areas of communication, motivation, group dynamics, team management.

On February 4th and 5th, 2009, a SightFirst training workshop will bring together the representatives of all African Districts in order to promote the SightFirst Programme in Africa. On February 5th, 2009, the Meeting of African Leaders and Coordinators of CSFII will be held.

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