Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why MSF?

So...what's Medecins Sans Frontieres got to do with the Great Divide Race? Well, I'm inspired by cycling adventurers like the Cranes and Louise Sutherland who managed to raise funds for humanitarian projects in parallel with their incredible trips. That idea has been simmering away in the background for several years. With the Great Divide Race on my radar, it's an idea thats time has come.

Picking a suitable charity to support was bloody hard! There are so many worthy causes out there. When my folks had cancer it occured to me that things would be a lot worse if we were living in the developing world with an income of $1000 a year. So, cancer treatment in poor nations is a worthy cause, for sure. But after a little Googling it was clear that cancer isn't actually a big killer in the developing world - most folk in Africa don't live past 50. They are more likely to die young from infectious diseases - the result of a lack of clean water, sanitation and basic medical supplies.

Imagine getting something like tuberculosis in a country without decent health care, when you are living on the breadline? Throw in a tsunami or a war. Mix with a big dose of corruption. Before you know it, you and your family are living (and dying) in abject poverty.

1,700,000 people died of tuberculosis in 2004. With medication (costing about $25/month for 6 months) your chance of surviving TB goes up from 33% to over 95%. Simple stuff like lung infections, malaria and diarrhea are even bigger killers; and all are cheap to treat or prevent.

Whatever suffering goes down at the Great Divide Race, it's small fry by comparison. We're the lucky people.

Medecins Sans Frontieres/Docters Without Borders is a leading humanitarian organisation of gutsy volunteer medical crew who are often the first into a country when things go pear-shaped, and often the last ones out when things go from bad to worse. Because they are volunteer-based, they are super efficient with their money. US$5,500 is enough to stock a 10,000 person refugee camp with medical supplies for three months!

That's my goal - to raise US$5,500 with the help of my sponsors and you. There will, by my standards, be some serious suffering at the Great Divide Race; times when motivation is sorely lacking; times when I'll want the next mile to be about more than the race. If you'd like to see me suffer right to the finish (trust me, it'll be good for a laugh) and give a little aid to a bunch of people whose idea of suffering is something altogether different than a gigantic bike race, check out the form below.



Richard said...

Working for MSF is a wonderful challenge. Like the Great Divide race, the only thing that is going to change is you! But that never stopped an MSF volunteer and it shouldn't stop you either. Best of luck and the pledge is in the mail!

Simon Kennett said...

Thanks Richard. I'd love to hear some yarns from the MSF front line.

Getting close to a thousand dollars worth of pledges now, and it's still early days.