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WANT TO HELP?
“There are many ways people can make a difference,” Kate says. “I can recommend supporting any of my partner organisations.”
They include: Plan International Australia plan.org.au; Millennium Promise millenniumpromise.org; EdunLive edun.com; Afar Pastoralist
Development Association apdaethiopia.org; World Bicycle Relief worldbicyclerelief.org; HUG hug.org.au; Farm Africa farmafrica.org.uk/;
The 500 Supporters Club the500supportersgroup.org. “At the very least, I’d recommend doing your homework – look for those organisations
that give effective development aid; are community centred, transparent, avoid giving gifts (hand outs), and which develop initiatives that focus
on skills transfer (eg business development, health, education, infrastructure).
For more information on Kate or how to get involved, email email@example.com.
“Also in Cameroon, we discovered that the Baka pygmy people were being
forced by the government to give up their traditional nomadic lifestyle and settle
in small villages in the forest. The Baka people belong to the ethnic and linguistic
group of the pygmies with about 75,000 Baka living in isolated communities
throughout the rainforest in south-east Cameroon. Not surprisingly, they are
having great difficulties assimilating to a sedentary lifestyle.”
Kate says she was moved to tears after hearing the story of the plight
of the Mbororo women refugees who have fled to Cameroon from the
Central African Republic. Many had lost their husbands and children to
rebels after they had been kidnapped and killed because the women were
unable to pay the huge ransom being demanded.
Having seen firsthand the issues facing many African families,
Kate believes education is the key to improving their quality of life. “It’s
not really about money, it’s more about a lack of empowerment. If people
can’t read, then they don’t have a voice, then they’ll never get ahead and
it will always be hand to mouth.
“Awareness fosters empathy, so I really set out with the aim of wanting
to help dispel some of the misconceptions that Australians have about
Africa. When I explain what I have done, people are surprised that I have
made it through alive – their imag es of Africa are of a dark continent, full
of dangers, war and corruption.”
As an ambassador for Plan International Australia’s ‘Because I Am a
Girl’ campaign, which aims to fight gender inequality, promote girls’ rights
and lift millions of girls out of poverty, one of Kate’s main aims was to
investigate programs addressing these issues. In Burkina Faso, the world’s
second poorest country, she visited a Plan project focusing on the importance
of women’s and girls’ education.
“Educated girls have fewer, healthier children, are able to earn more
money of which they will invest a greater percentage back into the family. An
important part of making a change in culture is through educating the men,
especially village leaders. Once they understand the importance of education,
sustainable change is more likely to occur.”
Amazingly, Kate used the same bike all the way, although she had to
change the drive train a couple of times. She also changed tyres depending on
whether she was riding on tarmac or rough track. And while she split her rear
rim with just 50km to g o, it didn’t stop her from finishing.
Kate arrived at Cape Hafun on August 16, four days ahead of schedule
and 10 months after leaving Senegal. She is the first person to cross the
African continent by bicycle from west to east in an unbroken line. For
most of us, the idea of cycling 22,000km across Africa is not just beyond
our comfort zone – it’s beyond our comprehension and ability. For Kate
though, it was, in many ways, the culmination of many years of seeking new
challenges – and many years of pushing her body to its limits. However, we
get the feeling that this won’t be her last journey. S
CLOCKWISE from left Pushing on
through Niger; journey’s end; a Tubu
woman; an African woman using a pump
donated by an Australian mining company.
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