Thursday, 14 January 2010

2010/01/14: Brazilian photographer and environmentalist arrives at Luanda, Angola, on a pedal kart, on his way to South Africa 2010

Joe's contact in Angola:

When the Angolan football selection enters the field next Saturday, the assistance will have an extra pair of hands ready to cheer. It is 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, who arrived in Luanda, the capital of Angola, finishing thus the third 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 on the African continent, "South Africa 2010".

Pedal Joe, who reached Luanda 20 days later than planned due to a second bout of malaria (luckily less strong than the first one) and having twisted his right ankle, due to the long walks through gravel roads, was received in this capital by the Business Delegate of the Brazilian Embassy, Fabiana Moreira, who is helping the environmentalist to renew his transit permit in Angola.

Since the start of his trip (a total of 17.000 kms), in Paris, on the 10th of May, 2008, Pedal Joe has already pedaled 13.500 kms, passing through: France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, the Congolese Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and finally Angola. From here, Pedal Joe will visit Namibia, Botswana and South Africa, in a journey of 3.500 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 third stage of the trip, Lagos-Luanda, “ was the most difficult of all, principally due to political instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that is going through a civil war started in the middle of 2008. The government of the Rep. Dem. of the Congo offered, through our embassy in Kinshasa, an escort to cross the country, but the cost was very high and I took the decision to face the almost 300 kilometers that separate the capital from Sangololo on my own”.

The passage through one of the most beautiful countries of West Africa, Nigeria, also was difficult. “ When I was still in Lagos, confrontations between the police and members of the radical Islamic group Boko Haram (an Islamic radical sect pro-taliban in the States of Bauchi and of Yobe) propagated through the whole northern region of the country, in the most brutish episode of religious violence in the country since November 2008. The armed confrontation left more than 300 dead and ended only after the summary execution of the leader of the movement, Mohammed Yusuf ”.

The robberies on the roads are a constant threat, and Pedal Joe suffered robbery attempts. “The first time, local inhabitants who were passing in a mini-van realized that something was wrong and stopped. The second, a police car was passing by at that moment and I was able to ask for help”.

Pedal Joe will stay in Luanda for one more week in order to resolve the problem of his stay in the country. “There are still more than a thousand kilometers in Angolan territory to go through and my permit is for only 16 days more. While the residency permit is not resolved, the cyclist will be in attendance at the Stadium on the 11th of November cheering the Angolan team in its participation in the African Nations' Cup, the principal football competition of the African Confederation of Football and of the African continent.

After leaving Angola, Pedal Joe, who has already finished more than 80% of the trip, will pedal in the direction of Namíbia, Botswana and, finally, South Africa, where he intends to arrive, in the city of Joanesburgo, on the first of June of this year.

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.

Nevertheless, it is not only the problems of vision that receive the attention of the Club of Service. The great world catastrophes, like the Tsunami, for example, are also part of the help objectives of the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), and have already mobilized to help the Haitian people mitigate a little the pain issued from the earthquake that devastated their country.

The direction of the International Lions Club, with headquarters in Oak Brooks, United States, is in contact with the Lions in Haiti, as well as the Lions in nearby countries of Latin America, to evaluate the situation and to determine the immediate necessities and how Lions and LCIF can better help. The LCIF already granted an immediate support of 50.000 dollars though its program “Major Catastophe Grant” in helping with the immediate necessities of the victims of the devastating earthquake (7.0 in the Richter scale) that the island suffered on Tuesday night, January 12, when the greater part of the capital, Port-au-Prince, was destroyed. It is estimated that 3 million people, almost a third of the population of the country, have been affected by the earthquake and the exact number of victims is not known at present as the search efforts continue.

Whoever wishes to help the Haitian Lions and Lions Clubs International Foundation to respond to this catastrophe, can participate with a donation citing the "LCIF Haiti Earthquake Relief". It is only necessary to get in touch with any Lions, of any city or country, and make your donation.

If you are having difficulties locating a Lions Clube near your residence, you can get in touch with Pedal Joe ( who will be happy to point you to the right contacts.

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: Luanda, Angola. Total distance: 17.000 kms. Already travelled: 13.500 kms. Still to go: 3.500 kms. Visited countries: France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola. Still to be visited: Namibia, Bostwana and South Africa, just in time to attend the first Soccer World Cup to be held on the African continent.

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)

1 comment:

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