On arrival, the riders plan to donate their bikes and riding gear to the hospital, to help doctors, nurses and other health workers deliver medical care to patients in outlying villages. The team will then spend a week doing volunteer work in and around the hospital. Dental care will also be on offer courtesy of one rider who’s a dentist.
“The extremely poor economy of the Gambia dictates that the health service within this tiny country is always under pressure to offer even basic medical services to the community, explains rider Belle Sinclair.
The team has chosen to undertake the ride on C90s for their simplicity and reliability, “They’re light, easy to ride, easy to service and economical. And parts are cheap,” says Belle. “Don’t forget, most of the people who will be riding them will be new riders – we’re not talking racing or leisure riding but a means for them to reach people who need help”.
While eight riders will be on regular C90’s, four, including Belle’s husband Gordon, will be riding new 110 Chinese copies. “We need to plan for the future,” says Belle. “The C90s are great little bikes, bug they’re now very sought after and parts, although cheap, are getting bit scarce. We’re trying the Chinese copies to see how they cope with the conditions because any bike at Bansang will be a workhorse”
This is the fourth time such an expedition has been made to support the work of British woman Anita Smith, who started fundraising for Bansang in 1992, and registered the Bansang Hospital Appeal Charity in 1997. Its initial aim was improve the conditions for infants and children with an 80-bed, purpose-built children’s ward. The new unit finally opened its doors in June 2006 and the hospital now also treats adults. Other major achievements include installation of solar power and the provision of an obstetric operating theatre.
Having self-funded the bikes and gear themselves, the Scooters in the Sahara team is now raising funds to help buy oxen, seeds and farming equipment to feed Bansang’s patients. For more information about the ride, or to donate, click here.