Andy Around the World

 
 

Hello to you. my name's Andy Lander Stow and I've ridden motorbikes since I was 16 - some 44 years ago. I feel very privileged to have been able to ride my motorbikes all over the place and meet some very special people and I feel that doing it just because I want to isn't a good enough reason. To that end I would like to use this trip around the World to, with your help, support Riders For Health.

 

Riders For Health

If you don't want to read what your money will help to do but you do want to donate something, please click the logo above to be taken to the "Just Giving" page - Thank you

Co-incidently, on Monday 3rd December 2012, The Times newspaper decided to support Riders For Health with their Christmas Charity Appeal - for the second time! This is almost unheard of and I believe that it shows that the money that Riders For Health get is spent in the right place....getting the vaccines and medicine, that we in the West take for granted, to the people who live in the rural areas of Africa.

I love this charity because it was started by motorcyclists, is run by motorcyclists and it uses motorcycles to get to the hard to the reach places. I'm a motorcyclist...why would I not want to help?

I'm no poet or wordsmith but I hope that I can cajole you into donating a pound or two even if it's just to say that you were involved in my great adventure. I'm not trying to raise enough money to send a man to the moon, just enough to buy the odd spark plug (£1) or perhaps enough money to provide 40 (Yes, honestly, 40) families health care visits for one year (£15). I've set my bar at raising £2,600. What does that get for the people of Africa?

£1000 could provide the running costs to keep a health worker on the road for one year.

and

£1,600 could provide a workshop with a tool-chest complete with appropriate tools, enabling technicians to carry out the regular servicing that is central to Riders' programmes.

£2,600, Yes, it's a lot of money but here's how I hope we can achieve it.

On my last trip into the East I wrote a Diary of the journey which is completely free to read at my Mongolian Trip Adventure website - HERE in case you didn't know! On the day that I'm writing this - 5th December 2012 - over 9000 people have visited that website. If I could persuade every one of those visitors to donate 50p, we would have raised over £4,500. OK, so not everone can give money away but if every other visitor gave £1 the result is the same!

All I'm asking is that you read the piece from the Times below and try to work out how you could donate £5. If every tenth person gave £5 then guess how much we would have raised....OVER £4,500!

So how would you know if you're the tenth person? You wouldn't, you can't take the risk that the previous visitor was the tenth and didn't "cough up" can you? Please go to my donation page and pledge at least £5. The Diary of the new 2013 adventure will be on the motomundus.com website as soon as we're off. It will be updated, when I can get the internet, with photos and comments and it'll all be free.

Perhaps this would buy a new motorbike and keep it running for a year? I don't know. All I know is that I care enough to want to help.

Now, please read on and see how the Times is spreading the news about this amazing charity, that is not only changing peoples lives but also giving them a life....

 
Riders for Health
 
 
Last updated at 11:03AM, December 3 2012

It would be wrong to say that Mambwe Kaemba swaggers with confidence — she is far too sweet for that. She sways.

Peeling off her apron after a morning spent vaccinating gurgling babies, she clips around the clinic in shiny high heels, with black patent bows, tidying up syringe wrappers, realigning weighing scales, before pausing to enjoy a moment of quiet.

In the dry heat of the afternoon the flies are restless and the rest of us are running on empty, pale skin burning, under the kind of open sky that overflows with bright, white sunshine and makes you want to shield your eyes.

But Mambwe seems serene. She has the air of a woman in control, because her life as a public health worker has been transformed. No more does she have to trudge on foot, cold box of vaccines slung over her shoulder, trying and failing to immunise all the children she needs to.

 

No longer does she have to wait for buses that arrive late, if at all, or let down the mothers who have walked miles for medicines. Because parked outside her clinic is a gleaming motorbike. A Yamaha AG100, with a 97cc engine. Runs like a dream.

“My mother worries about me being on the motorbike, but I tell her not to worry — I am very careful, and very able,” she says, as she runs through all her checks to make sure petrol, brakes, oil and gears are all tip-top.

Does she ride in those shoes? Of course she doesn’t, she says, laughing at the stupid question – all her protective gear is in the clinic, and apparently not half as hot as one might think, when zipping through the bush to a village 30 miles (50 km) away.

It has taken a long drive to reach her. On the empty highway from Livingstone, cars were outnumbered by baboons loitering by the roadside. By the time we rumbled up to her tiny clinic, tarmac was a distant memory.

Of course, Mambwe’s bike, on its own, would still only be a short-term solution in delivering healthcare to all the people scattered across this vast, difficult terrain.

The big difference, the thing that has really transformed Mambwe’s life, is that if her bike breaks down she knows how to fix it. If it needs a spare part, she has access to a reliable supply chain that can provide a new one.

If things really go haywire, she can call upon a network of local engineers, who will get her back on the road. But that rarely happens because she makes sure the same people give her bike a monthly check. By replacing spark plugs before they stop firing, changing chains before hers wears out, they save Mambwe’s bike from joining all the other expensively donated vehicles that too often end up in Africa’s graveyards of rust and good intentions.

If motorcycle maintenance is an art, then Riders For Health are the masters. It is one of many reasons why The Times is asking readers to support them, as part of this year’s Christmas appeal. Riders believe that in places such as rural Africa, better transport means ... well, better everything.

When the rainy season erases dirt tracks and turns red sand to soup, sometimes, the best way – the only way – to reach the remotest communities is to hop on a Honda and roar through the bush.

So, by thrusting a motorcycle helmet into the hands of public health workers such as 27-year-old Mambwe — after all the necessary training, of course — they are determined to prove that happier Yamaha engines and healthier Bridgestone tyres can lead directly to fewer preventable deaths.

Some Times readers may remember them from our Christmas Appeal in 2007. It is one of the few charities we have supported twice.

Back then, readers responded generously to the strength of a simple idea, which was beginning to make inroads in four African countries. Five years on, the remarkably efficient execution of that idea means their networks are now expanding across seven countries. Five hundred more healthcare workers, like Mambwe, have been mobilised, extending their reach to seven million more people.

During our first appeal, mechanics were just beginning their training as part of a limited programme in The Gambia. Today, the Ministry of Health pays Riders a non-profit fee to operate its entire national fleet of healthcare vehicles.

Nigeria now has a network of maintenance workshops across the country, and in Lesotho a team of 30 motorbike couriers criss-cross the kingdom, delivering blood samples and returning test results within the week, to speed up diagnosis of disease.

Next year a new national programme will be introduced across Malawi, putting a further 4.3 million people on health workers’ radars.

A busy five years, then, for Andrea and Barry Coleman, the husband and wife team from Northamptonshire who began it all by making that first Evil Knievel leap from the world of club racing to that of African healthcare.

They certainly do not look like petrolheads. If you asked what Andrea, a sparky sixtysomething, used to do in a previous life, few might guess professional motorcycle rider. In fact, she raced for three years.

Motorsport is in her blood. Her brother, Peter Williams, is a former Grand Prix road racer and mechanical engineer who invented the three-spoke wheel.

Their father, Jack Williams, ran the British motorbike manufacturer AMC. Then everything changed, when her first husband, Tom Herron, the Isle of Man TT legend, died during the notorious North West 200 road race of 1979.

“After that, I really needed to find a way of not thinking of the motorbike as destructive. They can be dangerous, but I have also always believed they could be very useful and important tools for saving lives too.”

For Mr Coleman, the beauty of Riders is the greasy, grimy, hands-on approach. When it comes to lofty talk of “helping Africa”, he believes there is too much emphasis on aid and advisory boards, and not enough practical attention paid to pistons and crankshafts. “You can’t do it all by magic,” says Mr Coleman. “You can’t do it by being Bono.”

Randy Mamola, the former motorcycle champion and Riders co-founder, also believes that two-wheeled machines have untapped potential.

“Since I was a kid, the hero in my life has been the motorbike,” said Mr Mamola, a small, muscular Californian. “Now I see people here, using motorbikes to transport healthcare, and it is becoming their hero too.”

In Zambia the new programme is already providing unforeseen benefits.

As Mambwe recalled: “When I went on bicycle, people would be angry with me for being late, for not seeing everyone. They discourage you.

“Even on public transport, we still had to walk many kilometres from the bus stop, carrying everything. People laughed at us. They said ‘these government workers, we’re even better than them’. Sometimes, you didn’t even go there because of such sentiments.” That has now changed.

“I have a higher status. People give you respect. They have more confidence in you when you are on the motorbike, and they listen to your advice.”

A recent outreach visit, delivering malaria treatment, was a case in point. “I managed to reach every household, and give them all the health education. I was able to move quickly, without getting tired, and received all their respect that was due to me.

“Now when people hear the Yamaha, they come near the road to wave at me. I feel very proud of myself.”

There is one last bonus. “Now when I arrive somewhere and remove the helmet, people are shocked to see I am a woman. They say, how do you do it? Other people say if a woman could do it, anyone could do it.”

“I tell them, ah,” Mambwe shakes her head, and flashes a mischievous smile, “but I know how to do it properly.”

 
 

Riders for Health

 

So, was that inspirational, have you decided to support me in my quest?

If the answer is "Not yet" then how about the Times Editorial that went with this piece... It was entitled "Hell's Angels". That's Mambwe and her colleagues. Angel's who work in Hell. Scorching heat, the nearest hospital is miles away and it takes 2 hours to cover 5 miles on foot. We can give the Angels the means with which to work their miracles. The miracles we all take for granted when we pop to the Doc's or the Chemist to get cured of some non-life threatening illness - or perhaps "Man Flu" is life threatening?

 
Please, forsake that pint/box of choccies/cinema ticket/whatever and donate at least £5 now. Then and tell me you've done it. I will add your name to the list below.
 
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List of people supporting Andy by supporting Riders for Health

 
  Denise Stow - Modbury  
  Mark Held - Kendal  
  Tony Melling - Shizuoka, Japan  
  Steve Harcus - Devon TRF  
  Brian & Trish Sussex - Exmouth.  
  Paul Kemp - Land of the Long White Cloud.  
  Robin & Andi Jennings - owner of Babs!  
     
     
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Moto Mundus Cough up now...PLEASE!