LAKE TANGANYIKA KAYAK EXPEDITION 2008
CREW MAP&ROUTE KAYAK PHOTOS SPONSORS
CHARITABLE BENEFICIARIES BLOG (DAILY REPORTS)
Early in our trip we spent some time in a small village called Kirambo in Tanzania, which is on the lake shore not too far from the Zambia/Tanzania border. I saw a small boy with a cleft lip, who was extremely shy. As soon as he realised that I saw him, he ran away and I did not see him again. He is obviously very aware of his condition and I could not stop wondering about all his social challenges. I also knew that such deformities are relatively easy to correct with surgery if it is available. With Kirambo being as remote as it is and with people living simple lives with little material possessions, I realised that the boy’s chances of obtaining medical assistance was very small. This bugged me for the rest of our trip.
When we returned to South Africa, I decided to see whether I could help him. I eventually got in touch with Operation Smile (http://www.operationsmile.org), who indicated that they can assist by performing the necessary operation free of charge. With that good news, the first challenge was to get hold of the boy and his parents. I contacted our friends Chris and Louise Horsfall, who live in Tanzania. After doing some enquiries, they found a group of missionaries who were to visit the area. I sent them the necessary information and after the week’s visit to the area they managed to find the boy. His name is Winston Chizu and after explaining to his father John what can be done, the family agreed to the proposed operation.
Although the operation is being done free of charge by Operation Smile, they do not cover the travelling costs. That is where our second challenge comes in. The operation will be performed in Nakuru in Kenya around 20 April this year. This will be the closest operation venue where Operation Smile will be performing surgery in the foreseeable future. Although the direct distance between Kirambo and Nakuru is just over 1000 km, the little infrastructure in Southern Tanzania will necessitate John and Winston to undertake numerous bus trips over five days of nearly 2000 km to reach Nakuru (from Kirambo to Sumbawanga, Mbeya, Arusha, Nairobi and then on to Nakuru which lies north west of Nairobi). The total estimated cost for the ten days’ travelling, plus accommodation, food, travel documents and some clothing / essentials for the trip, comes to USD 1,660 – a cost which the family will never be able to afford. John and Winston could be away from home for up to four weeks, depending on how long he needs to remain in Nakuru after the operation in order to be close to medical assistance.
We requested friends and family to make donations and have received number of generous donations to date. The funds that have been received to date are sufficient to covers the immediate needs for Winston's first operation. Thanks a million to all who contributed! You are helping to make a huge difference in this boy’s life. In the interest of transparency, you can view the bank statements of donations received in the file below.
However, at this stage we do not know whether any further operations will be needed. Should this be the case, more money may be needed. Should you be interested to assist in that case, please email me on email@example.com – I will keep your name on record and let you know should the need arise.
Alternatively if you would like to help another person with similar deformities in the mean time, you could also make a donation to Operation Smile South Africa - their bank details are on follow link: http://southafrica.operationsmile.org/ . For international donations, please consult http://www.operationsmile.org.
Below are images Africa and East Africa. Winston's home village Kirambo and the town Nakuru in Kenya where the operation will be done can be seen. Also below is an image of Winston as captured on the video camera.
15 March 2009:
Firstly, a big thanks to all who donated funds for this cause. The response was amazing and shortly after I sent out the email I posted a note on the website to let people know that we have received sufficient funds. If anyone would still like to assist or if more funds are required (for a possible second operation), instead of making further contributions rather email me so that I can track these commitments. So for now we have more than enough for the immediate needs and plenty of commitments from individuals and one large corporate trust should more be required. Thanks again all!
Winston’s operation is scheduled for bit more than a month from now – he needs to be in Nakuru in Kenya on 19 April. All seems to be on track for this date, but the simplest of logistical arrangements are more challenging in this very remote part of Tanzania. The current challenge is to get Winston and his father John the necessary travel documents to travel to Kenya. For this they need to travel to Sumbawanga, which is about 90 km from their isolated village Kirambo on the lake shore. My friends Chris and Louise Horsfall went to Sumbawanga for the last few days, but unfortunately Winston and John did not arrive during this period as arranged with them via Kirambo’s village chairman. The village chairman, Privatus, is not reachable at present (the way to contact Privatus is to send him a SMS in which you need to ask him to be available at a specific time, and then to call at that time when Privatus then needs to be on a nearby hill, the only place with sufficient cell phone reception). Winston and John may be on their way to Sumbawanga at the moment, but due to rain many of the roads in the area are currently flooded and just about impassable – one never knows during the rainy season as the infrastructure in the Kirambo area is very poor. However, should they reach Sumbawanga’s bank (the agreed meeting point) in the mean time, Louise and Chris arranged with the bank manager to notify them. Also, the guards at the bank are aware of the two expected travellers. It is really great to hear how the community in Sumbawanga is now aware and on the lookout. Also, a friend of Louise called Marjo, who is a missionary in the area, will be travelling through to Sumbawanga this week. If she manages to meet Winston and John while there, she will take care of the logistical arrangements (i.e., help them to get their travelling documents, help kit them out for the trip with clothes, travel bags etc. and provide them with the necessary cash to get them to get to Kenya). If not, Louise and Chris will be in Sumbawanga again the week after next.
One valuable lesson that we have learnt from this is that it is not necessarily possible to travel from Kirambo to Sumbawanga in one day only during the rainy season – John and Winston will need to start their trip to Kenya even earlier than planned. But let’s hope they make it now to get their travelling documents sorted - so please hold thumbs!
And lastly and on a different note, Louis and I have been included in the Out There Adventure Magazine’s Adventurer of the Year competition for being the first to complete a successful crossing of the world’s longest lake by kayak! Please vote for us if you believe that we deserve it (it is election year after all!) You can do so on http://www.outthere.co.za/adventure/vote/adventurer_of_the_year.asp - Brent Wibberley (who kayaked the last part of the trip with us) is in the photo with us.
1 March 2009:
Winston and John will be travelling to Sumbawanga shortly to apply for their travelling documents. For the purposes of funding, I have transferred USD 1,000 to my friends Chris and Louise. (please see below the proof of telegraphic transfer). They will ensure that the necessary costs and covered and that John has sufficient funds to travel to Kenya. For security reasons Brent Wibberley will meet with John and Winston in Kenya to give them the remainder of the funds needed.