Sunday, 26 July 2009

09/07/26: In a child's Go-Kart, Pedal Joe completes 10.000 kms bound for "South Africa 2010"

Joe's contact in the Federal Republic of Nigeria:

The Brazilian cyclist, environmentalist and photographer, José Geraldo de Souza Castro, Zé do Pedal (Pedal Joe), 52, member of the Lions Clube of Viçosa, District LC12, State of Minas Gerais, Brazil, reached today Lagos, the business capital of Nigeria, finishing thus the second stage of his voyage in a pedal go-kart manufactured in Holland by the company BERG Toys ( and prepared specially for the trip to South Africa, where he will assist to the first Football World Cup in the African continent, "South Africa 2010".

Since the start of his trip (a total of 17.000 kms), in Paris, on the 10th of May, 2008, Pedal Joe has already pedalled 10.000 kms, passing through: France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin and finally, Nigeria. From here, Pedal Joe will visit Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa, in a journey of 7.000 kms that will have its final day on the first of June of 2010 in the city of Johannesburg.

The pedal Go-Kart that is being used was based on the model BERG X-plorer X-treme, equipped with high durability tires, a polyethylene rim, reinforced transmission train, tortion bar, steel frame, disk brakes on the rear wheels, 7 speed gearbox, head lights, anatomical seat, Saint Anthony, anti-theft system, LED lights, solar panel, rear-view mirrors, and odometer.

According to the cyclist, the second stage of the trip, Dakar-Lagos, “was a little more difficult, and complicated, than the first one (Paris-Dakar): First, in Senegal, I caught almost 300 kms of dirt roads, where I could only manage to advance approximately 30 kms per day... 12 days eating dust and spitting brick! Arriving at Kayes, in Mali, I caught, during one week, temperatures of up to 45 degrees. The high temperatures were a constant during practically the entire time that I took to cross Mali. While arriving in Ivory Coast, I passed over a zone controlled by the rebellious militia of that country, where there do not exist any laws. In other words: orders who can and obeys who has any judgement. Already following the Atlantic coast, began the (already predicted) rain season, with constant downpours at least 5 days during the week... and with the rain, came also the mosquitoes... in throves! and, after arriving at Accra, capital of Ghana, while the Brazilian selection was vibrating with each victory in the Confederations' Cup, I was turning and turning in the bed victim of Malaria. Thanks to the decisive and important support of Kwane, member of the Lions Clube of Tema, Ghana, and the Brazilian Embassy in Accra, that provided financial support to buy the medicines, I could rehabilitate myself and continue the trip. Also important was the support of the Publisher of the magazine Abidjan Planet, who invited me for one week at his home, while I was doing a complete revision and some adjustments in the Go-Kart. The stop over served also to recover part of the 6 kilograms that I had lost due to the strong heat in Mali”.

While beginning next Monday the third stage of the trip (Lagos-Luanda), Pedal Joe will be counting also the days for his aperitif at the World Cup "South Africa 2010". He hopes to assist, in Angola, to the African Cup of Nations, the principal competition of football of the African Confederation of Football and of the African continent. It happens every two years since 1968, and will, between the 10th and the 31st of January of 2010, be held in that country.

However, before seeing the ball rolling in Angolan lands, Pedal Joe must face some mountains and more than 1.000 kms of dirt roads, which cut the dense forests of Equatorial Africa. “Of course, passing through virgin forests is somewhat frightening. Luckily, the rainy season must already have passed, and I will only have to worry about the holes, the excess of dust and, clearly, about an encounter of the third kind with some wild animal. But this is the only way, there is no other, and I am ready to face it. I have already done more than 60% of the trip and to reach Luanda, and then Johannesburg, is only a question of patience and perseverance”.

According to the environmentalist, the objective of the trip is to focus the attention of the international community on two of the biggest problems that affect the vision of children in the world, especially in the poorest countries: Cataracts and Glaucoma, and to get funds for the great campaign of the International Lions Club: the program Sight First.

The work of the International Lions Clubs to fight blindness began in 1925, when Helen Keller challenged the Lions to become "champions of the blind in a crusade against the darkness" during the International Convention of the association. Today, the Lions are recognized around the world by the services that are being dispensed to the blind and visually impaired.

The Lions demonstrate this promise of preserving eye sight through the recycling of glasses, of partnerships with eye organizations and of countless other services related eye sight. The SightFirst I program was launched by the Lions in 1989 to fight preventable blindness. Regrettably, 80% of blind persons, world-wide, were unnecessarily deprived of eye sight. Through SightFirst I, the Lions have been acting towards the prevention of blindness offering support for cataract surgeries, helping to build or to expand clinics and eye hospitals, distributing eye disease preventive medicines and training ophtalmology professionals.

The ambitious Program SightFirst I of the Lions restored eye sight through cataract surgeries, prevented the severe loss of eye sight and perfected eye care services dispensed to hundreds of millions of adults and children. To continue and to expand this initiative, the Lions launched the Campaign SightFirst II. Each year, hundreds of Lions Clubs around the world carry out eye examinations, programs of community education, collection of glasses and other special projects to mark the Lions World Sight Day, which takes place on October 11th. The Lions World Sight Day was created in 1998 to underline the importance of eradicating preventable blindness and improving eye sight. A growing number of Lions Clubes uses the opportunity to collect glasses, to carry out eye diseases and diabetes screenings and to plan education programs designed to promote the awareness of the community about the importance of eye sight and the impact that diseases such as diabetes have on it.

SightFirst became not only surprisingly proficient, but also amazingly efficient. On average, each US$ 6 in donations result in a person with restored eye sight or prevented from becoming blind. The Campaign SightFirst collected US$ 143 millions from the Lions. The program SightFirst is helping specially the children. In partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), the SightFirst campaign launched the first global initiative to combat child blindness. The project is creating 30 pediatric eye service centres around the world.

The Campaign SightFirst II, which collected more than US$ 200 million around the world, will allow the Lions to expand on the extraordinary work of SightFirst I and to continue it's work of preventing of blindness and of restoring eye sight to million persons world-wide.

About the Lions Clubs:

The International Association of Lions Clubs began as the dream of Chicago business leader Melvin Jones.

He believed that local business clubs should expand their horizons from purely professional concerns to the betterment of their communities and the world at large. Jones’ group, the Business Circle of Chicago, agreed. After contacting similar groups around the United States, an
organizational meeting was held on June 7, 1917 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The new group took the name of one of the invited groups, the “Association of Lions Clubs”, and a national convention was held in Dallas, Texas, USA, in October of that year. A constitution, by-laws, objectives and code of ethics were approved.

Among the objectives adopted in those early years was one that read, “No club shall hold out the financial betterment of its members as its object.” This call for unselfish service to others remains one of the association’s main tenets. Just three years after its formation, the association became international when the first club in Canada was established in 1920. Major international expansion continued as clubs were established, particularly throughout Europe, Asia and Africa during the 1950s and ’60s.

In 1925, Helen Keller addressed the Lions international convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA. She challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” From this time forward, Lions clubs have been actively involved in service to the blind and visually impaired.

Broadening its international role, Lions Clubs International helped the United Nations form the Non-Governmental Organizations sections in 1945 and continues to hold consultative status with the U.N.

In 1990, Lions launched its most aggressive sight preservation effort, SightFirst. The US$215 million program strives to rid the world of preventable and reversible blindness by supporting desperately needed health care services. Lions have launched Campaign SightFirst II to raise at least US$150 million to continue and expand the extraordinary work of SightFirst.

In addition to sight programs, Lions Clubs International is committed to providing services for youth. Lions clubs also work to improve the environment, build homes for the disabled, support diabetes education, conduct hearing programs and, through their foundation, provide
disaster relief around the world. Lions Clubs International has grown to include 1.3 million men and women in 45,000 clubs located in 205 countries and geographic areas.

140.000 kms of pedal turns around the world:

The story of Pedal Joe begins on November 1981, when he decided to travel from Brazil to Spain, on a bicycle, to assist at the Football World Cup “Spain '82”, where the Brazilian Selection was not very lucky... and, on a grey afternoon, in the city of Barcelona, Brazil fell at the feet of Italy, saying goodbye to the "Tetracampeonato" dream. On board the transatlantic liner that took him back to Rio de Janeiro, Pedal Joe was dreaming about a bicycle tour of the World. Well, from then on, he did not stop. From that long gone-by November until today, he visited 66 countries in 5 continents, "pedalled" 144.000 kms, assisted to two Football World Cups, was caught in two civil wars, faced monsoon rains, earthquakes, and survived 5 hurricanes.

He won a marathon, in Lima, Peru. He visited idyllic islands and came to know the suffering of children and adults in refugee camps of the Vietnam war. An absurd war, that in the end only left destruction and death. He experienced drought, the hunger and the misery of the people of Africa and of the north-east of Brazil. He saw the smiles of the children playing by the riverside of the “Old Man Chico” (the river São Francisco) and the tears in the eyes of the riverside dweller looking at the dried-up riverbed. He visited places that marked history: the Twin Towers, the Egyptian Pyramids, the Parthenon of Athens, the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, the bridge on the River Kwai-Ai, the Tower of Pisa, and so many others. In the end, his travels represented an open book about geography, history and, above all, life.

Pedal Joe's trips and social projects (so far):

1981/82 Brazil-Spain on a bicycle
1983/86 World Tour on a bicycle – Campaign for Cancer
1985 Crossed Japan on a Velocipede – Campaign for Ethiopia's children
1987 Chui-Brasilia on a Velocipede - Campaign for Brazil's North~East region's children
1996 South America on a Motorcycle
2002 Rio São Francisco on a pedal boat (from Tres Marias to Pontal do Peba) - Campaign of awareness against the pollution of the São Francisco river
2004/05 New York-Dzilan de Bravo (Mexico) on a pedal boat. 10.000kms - Campaign of awareness against the pollution of the water on the Planet
2007 He crosses Guanabara Bay on a boat made with 240 Pet bottles - Campaign of awareness against the pollution of Guanabara Bay
2007 Piracicaba-Borborema (Rio Tiete) on a boat made with 240 Pet bottles - Campaign of awareness against the pollution of the Tiete - Parana rivers

2008/10 Paris-Johannesburg on a Pedal-Kart - Campaign of awareness about Glaucoma and Cataract and to spread the word about the SightFirst Program of the Lions International Club
Start: Paris, 10th of May 2008
End: Johannesburg, June 1st 2010
Actual position: Lagos, Nigeria.
Total distance: 17.000 kms
Already travelled: 10.000 kms,
Still to go: 7.000 kms
Visited countries: France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria
Still to be visited: Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Namibia, Bostwana and South Africa, just in time to attend the first Soccer World Cup to be held on the African continent.

Pedal Joe thanks BERG Toys, University Photo and Buynet for their support.

For more information about SigthFirst:

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 Falcão * travel products

"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)