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Experiencing Zambia with a Cause

Apr 10, 2013 // Lady Riders //

At our Hoh Rainforest Ride last year in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, we met a few participants involved with the nonprofit organization Riders for Health. Recently, we were excited to find out that one of the riders, Jill Oliver, went on an amazing adventure in Zambia through Riders for Health.

In case you didn’t know, Riders for Health provides motorcycles, ambulances and other four-wheel vehicles to help deliver health care in seven countries across Africa. The majority of the population of sub-Saharan Africa lives in rural areas where the roads are few to none. Public transport is infrequent causing health care to be delivered by foot or bicycle between villages, causing them to be stranded without healthcare professionals to give vaccines and other medical supplies. At the core of their work, they include training and preventative vehicle maintenance to ensure that they will be able to maintain their vehicles.

In November 2012, Jill Oliver, an environmental scientist from Seattle, took part in Experience Africa, Riders for Health’s off-road fundraising ride in Zambia. She takes us through the highlights of her nine-day adventure.

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Wednesday 14th November

Made it to Lusaka, Zambia. I got to meet the whole crew and learn more about Riders from Randy Mamola (co-founder). So exciting! Tomorrow we see elephants, ride into town and then a crocodile farm.

Thursday 15th November

We started the day with breakfast and then heard presentations from Randy and Constance Chibiliti Riders’ programme manager in Zambia. Zambia just increased their fleet by 76 motorcycles this year, and the programme is being studied by Stanford University, courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It will be amazing to see how human health statistics change once motorbikes carry additional medical workers into the field.

After breakfast, our first ride! We learned about the bikes then set off to see baby elephants.

Friday 10th – Sunday 18th November

Over the next few days, we travel to Kariba Bush – a crocodile farm off Kariba Lake, the largest man-made lake in the world.

We visited several villages and met some amazing people. The women didn’t know what to think of us, but the children loved that all these motorbikes came through the village. Motorbikes are loved in this country.

One woman was eight months pregnant and had to walk 1.5km to the nearest clinic and hope medical personnel would be there. Imagine if you had to walk in that heat, pregnant, to see a doctor.

Monday 19th November

In Choma today, we travelled to two health clinics, one with support from Riders and one without. Just by hearing about the time spent and miles covered, it’s clear that Riders reaches more people in need of health care than the one without. We met one of the health workers and, since February, he has put over 5,000 miles on the bike. In comparison, the other health worker without Riders’ support, walks to the villages.

Tuesday 20th November

Made it to Livingstone! What a day. We visited a clinic supported by Riders, followed a health worker into the village, met so many beautiful women and babies, and watched an environmental health technician talk to the women about family planning.

Wednesday 21st November

It’s hard to believe that the ride is over. Seeing what Riders does for the people of Zambia made the experience beyond words. Not only did I have a blast learning how to be a better rider but I learned a little more about myself.

If you’re interested in Experience Africa contact our ride team, at experienceafrica@riders.org.

Click here to read more Riders Experience Africa blog posts. 

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