Please make a difference with a donation to BEN Namibia

Magdalene Visser BEN Namibia

BEN Namibia is doing great things with used bikes

I am back in Edinburgh since a couple of days now and finally managed to get the press section up-to-date. I have just tried to exactly map the route with Google Maps and given up, as there just too many destinations I have passed. If my cycle computer had not given up (as my rear light did as well, all other items survived the whole trip) after 760 km, I would have an exact number how many kilometres I cycled in the end and if I got close to the 1000 miles target as the Edinburgh Evening News mistakenly printed. Yes, I was always aiming for cracking the 1000km mark (which is quite a bit less than 1000 miles). But taking all data from my odometer and the remaining rough distances from Google Maps, I cycled about 1350km in total, roughly about 100km a day. Considering the circumstances, I cycled with the least possible amount of daylight in the year in one of the coldest winters since recordings began and only had one gear to (not) choose from, I am happy that I managed to make such good progress. Days 3 and 4 were not full days; day 3 was a buffer planned to make sure that I manage to get the boat to Amsterdam, and rolling off the ferry by 11am on day 4 did cut a good proportion riding off as well. Spending another 3omin getting through border controls and then an awful long time trying to find a cash machine to get some Euro made that day a 12noon start as well. So overall, I am satisfied with my own performance.

But in the end it’s just numbers. The way more important thing was actually the journey and all its highs and lows. I will never forget arriving at my parents’ house in Schwobfeld right in time for Christmas and not bailing anywhere in the middle. It was the best Christmas present I could ever imagine, both for my family and me. In numbers I cycled more than needed, as I took two trains back to places I had already passed to find some reasonable priced accommodation, one from Rheinsberg to Xanten and one from Siegburg to Bonn, but cycled back the next day. The routes weren’t that impressive that I wanted to repeat them, but some more kilometres can’t hurt.

Markus with a very special gift from his parents

Markus with a very special gift from his parents

But in the end, why all that jazz about numbers here? I did set an ambitious goal at the beginning of donating 1 pound per kilometre cycled, and I am still aiming for that. I am back home and dry and have done most of my bit by cycling, meeting great people and taking pictures. Now I only have to do the writing bit, but that does not stop me from campaigning for reaching the second target and donating at least 1350 pounds in the end to BEN Namibia, the charity I am supporting. The sole purpose of the trip was not raising money for charity. I have seen too many cyclists out there just finishing because they felt they needed to for the sake of their charity efforts. But I always connected my personal aim with the wish to make life for some people a wee bit better. Christmas was the best time I could think of, and so in a way my personal effort was a present to those people. And that is still the case, especially as I can put all efforts into raising money for that purpose now. And I would appreciate your help. If you kept following my progress from your couch or desk, why not donate the money for the next pint (or round) in the pub (or something equal if you stopped drinking or you are not allowed to) to BEN Namibia through this site? BEN Namibia is an organisation based out of Windhoek, Namibia They refurbish used bikes that are collected in Canada, USA and Europe and distribute them to HIV/AIDS home based care networks around the country. They also service and sell bicycles out of our shop in Windhoek. Other projects include bicycle ambulance design, cycling safety training and capacity-building work though training a network of mechanics around the country. Find our more here To easily track the amount of donations and see whether I can reach the second ambitoius target, you can make a donation on this site via PayPal. Otherwise you can also donate money directly to BEN Namibia on their website and send me a quick message about the amount. I am also accepting donations in cash. If you want to get in touch about alternative methods please contact me, we will find a way. Every amount, no matter how big or small, is much appreciated!

And finally here are some numbers on how much can be achieved with the money:

US$ 500 / £ 250 Funds comprehensive training in bicycle mechanics for up to 15 people. BEN Namibia focusses on training women, empowering them with traditionally male skills.

US$ 200 / £100 pays for three bicycles for healthcare volunteers in Namibia. This amount covers import duties, refurbishment costs, delivery, and monitoring and evaluation of the bicycle’s impact.

US$ 100 / £50 pays for one comprehensive bicycle tool kit for a community member to maintain bicycles for healthcare volunteers on the road.

US$ 50 / £ 25 pays for two accessory kits for healthcare volunteers with helmets, pumps, patch-kits and locks.

So please spread the word and make a difference, I will continue working on a nice story from the trip and post some product reviews as well in the near future.

All the best for 2011 and thanks for your support so far,

Markus