Jaime Morris has kindly dedicated an album to 'the Shirt 2010 project'. It is now available on itunes for download with 50% of the money from each track going directly to the project.
Please download a copy of 'More Than A Game' today.
Every CD or track sold helps us to provide school books, water pumps, goats etc. to projects such as the Mombasa Street Boys and the Chogo Refugee Camp. We can put this money directly into these projects so even one CD makes a real difference.
You can download the album by visiting the itunes site. Just click here to be redirected.
Saturday, April 24
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
As I was reliably informed, it takes 24 hours to recover from a scorpion bite. Sure enough, the pain has all but gone as I take breakfast 24 hours later.
We take advantage of REDESO's kind offer to use their office for what we call a 'communication day'. It is vital that we keep up to date with all our blogs, emails and media contacts, but when you are on the road it is sometimes days until you can find decent internet and a place to work.
This is no holiday. Bjorn has been to some amazing places but not done any of the tourist sites. A good example was Cairo - minus the pyramids.
And since I joined him there were no game reserves; no lions and elephants in Kenya. Sadly (for me) there will be no trip to the magical island of Zanzibar from Dar es salaam.
After several hours of blogging two ladies turn up at the office to interview us for one of southern Africa's leading sports channels - Star Sports. I am not entirely sure that they are overly impressed with Bjorn's tales of his trip so far because mid-interview the two ladies start reading a newspaper between themselves. I get the feeling it's a wind up, but it's not :)
Cue film of the two crazy mzungus cycling around outside in the township and our African TV careers advance yet further.
REDESO director Mr Kasaizi kindly takes us to the Tanzanian Football Federation and organises tickets for Sunday's African Confederations Cup match, then we spend the evening in the company of Tanzania's top FIFA-approved Football agent (and owner of Africa Lyon FC), Mehdi.
The man is a top host and treats us to dinner at an excellent Italian restaurant and a couple of beers at one of his favourite clubs before driving us home to the door of our hotel.
Loads more news and photos here:
More info about Africa Lyon Football Club:
Friday, April 23
Chogo Refugee Resettlement Camp, Tanzania
When we think of venturing abroad to exotic lands we often spend too much time worrying about the possible perils that might await us there: spiders, snakes, disease, war etc.
It is sensible to be cautious but sometimes we forget the very real threats in our every day lives such as driving to work in the morning or sending ourselves to an early grave by smoking too many cigarettes.
I was stood in the toilet at 7am on friday morning admiring the wonderful sunrise over the Chogo Resettlement Camp when suddenly I felt an acute pain in my inside leg. I would liken it to being given an injection by a nervous nurse. There quickly followed a second surge of pain and I knew something was amiss.
Out in the courtyard I quickly pulled off my trousers and asked Bjorn if he could see anything that might have caused my pain.
I watched Bjorn step back and his face screw up, "It's a scorpion mate"
"You're joking aren't you?"
"No, it really is. I am sorry. You've been bitten by a scorpion."
A million thoughts race around my head ranging from 'am I dreaming this?' to 'Is the scorpion of the deadly variety and might I die from this wound?'
I lie on the bed in a vertical position and a T-shirt is tied around my leg above my knee to limit the spread of the scorpion's venom.
Bjorn goes off in search of the local doctor but tells me there are 'no deadly scorpions in Tanzania'. His words settle me. Slightly. But as I lie there alone in the room I conclude that Bjorn probably doesn't know anything about scorpions and maybe, just maybe, I might die from this.
It is an absurd idea that this might be the cause of my demise but as I feel the venom spread across my leg I realise that it really might be a possibility.
Bjorn phones his Norwegian Army friend, Ingar, who starts searching his resources for the deadly-or-not status of the scorpion. He reckons I am safe. Jimmy, our guide in Chogo, arrives with pain killers and anti-allergy medicine. The scorpions in Chogo are not deadly, he assures me.
He's just told me I have won the lottery. I don't need to explain the relief.
The UNHCR and REDESO agree to provide us with a vehicle for the day to transport us to Dar es Salaam as clearly cycling is something I won't be doing for a couple of days.
The venom spreads until I can hardly feel a thing in most of my right leg. We drive to Dar es Salaam, I guess 300-400 kilometres away. Scorpion poison makes you feel very tired. I am in and out of sleep for most of the journey south-east.
In Dar es Salaam the people at REDESO can't do enough to help us. They help us find a place to sleep, start contacting the local press and football clubs and say some very kind words about what Bjorn and I are trying to achieve.
You shouldn't mix alcohol with medicine, but one cold beer by the roadside watching the citizens of Dar es Salaam go about their business is a perfect way to finish the day and to reflect upon how happy I feel to be alive.
Thursday, April 22
Chogo Refugee resettlement Camp, Tanzania
Due to a little bit too much beer (at least I hope that is his excuse) Bjorn was cuddling up closer to me in bed than I would have liked and clearly was thinking I might be his Marianne :) Consequently, I elected to spend the rest of the night trying to sleep on the floor.
We travel up to the Chogo Refugee Settlement, less than 100 kilometres from Tanga. The camp is run by REDESO (The Relief to Development Society).
The vision of REDESO is as follows:
"A community where vulnerable people have access to equal opportunities and empowerment".
There are around 2,800 resettled Somalis living at the Chogo Camp. The idea is that they become self sufficient and naturalized as Tanzanian citizens.
Both these ideas seem appropriate to me. Chogo is a beautiful place. It is hilly, full of lush vegitation and enjoys the occasional cooling breeze.
The camp's residents, young and old, are very friendly. We meet the camp's Elders. They want to be totally self-sufficient, but first they need a little more help from people like you and me. They need school books for the kids; they need electricity and running water.
Much has already been achieved at Chogo from when it was originally nothing more than one huge UNHCR tent. Now thousands live happily in their own houses, go to their mosque, cook on coal-heated stoves and, of course, play football.
But these people have shown that if they are given the tools to become self-sufficient, they can do just that.
It would be nice to think that somebody who reads this might help to put those books into the Chogo classrooms and the waterpumps into the orange Chogo soil.
For more details:
Wednesday, April 21
After the previous day's trials and tribulations, a relaxing evening consisting of several Safari beers, a tasty Indian curry, Champions League football, clean white sheets and an air-conditioned room meant that I slept like a baby and woke up feeling as fit and sprightly as a teenage lad.
The two hitchbikers sat out on the breakfast veranda with its fine views of the Indian Ocean, and the dhows that ply the waterways in the distance. It might only be just after 7am but the Tanga Immigration boys are out and about early doors looking for foreigners who might not be who they say they are. So breakfast is spent with Tanga Immigration who, perhaps not surprisingly, are a little taken a back to hear Bjorn's well-told tale of cycling from Norway to South Africa for the refugees. Our Indian-Tanzanian hosts look a little tense. I guess we look more like drug smugglers than cyclists. Well, Bjorn certainly looks dodgy :)
A photo of Bjorn with Sepp Blatter and a letter from the Tanzanian Ministry of Home Affairs soon clear things up.
Wednesday is supposed to be what we call 'a communication day'. This, as the name suggests, is a day when we set aside 5 or 6 hours to blog, email and edit stories. It is also the first time I have had proper access to my emails in around a week and the first thing I discover is that my father has had what he calls 'a mild heart attack'.
It goes without saying that this news worries and stresses me greatly. My dad is in China and must have a serious operation the following day. I know there is nothing I can do to help and that only adds to the tension.
In the evening I am hoping for a quiet beer alone but as I enter the hotel bar I get introduced to two South Korean lads wearing German football tops who want to talk about football. There is a 1997 calendar on the wall, two toy white Persian cats plonked near our beers and a white man with a German accent who speaks fluent Swahili stocking up the beers. I am worried about my father but I guess surreal distractions are a good thing.
Tuesday, April 20
We leave Lunga Lunga at first light and cycle to the border. Officials on both sides are friendly and like our project. The Kenyan customs lady sheds tears of laughter when she hears Bjorn has been cycling all the way to here from Norway :)
It is 50 dollars to enter Tanzania but the immigration officer gives us both a free bottle of ice cold Miranda each.
Asphalt road instantly becomes dirt track. After maybe a dozen kilometres, dirt track becomes a continuous pot-holed, dried-up quagmire of a road. Suddenly, cycling has become off-road BMXing.
This really is rural Africa. We pass a village where Masai tribesmen are stood chatting. A dung beetle pushes a cow poo across the road; we pass rivers full of crocodiles.
The heat and humidity are awful. The orange pot holed track stretches forever. Bjorn tells me this is the worst stretch of road on the whole trip and the harshest weather conditions. I mildly throw up twice and take more breaks with every hour that passes.
Truthfully, I have never felt so exhausted in my life - physically and mentally. I was hoping we would call it a day by noon but Bjorn is determined to make it to Tanga by the end of the day. There aren't really other places we can stay.
When we do finally make it to Tanga after 80 kilometres I am close to collapsing. We agree to find a 'good hotel'. We find one with air-con, good food and clean rooms. It feels like the most luxurious place on earth.
Monday, April 19
After visiting the medical centre and seeing the good work the Rafiki Kenia Foundation and the local doctors are doing we get back on the road. Unfortunately, we don't get away until after 10am and the temperature soon soars to 39 Celsius.
We were told it was 30 kms to Lunga Lunga, on the border. After 30 kms there is no sign of the town so we start asking the locals how far is left. "About 35 kilometres". Five kilometres later we ask another local. He replies, "Around 50 kms."
Then we meet some Kenyan Army men by the roadside.
"Are we going in the wrong direction?" "No."
"Are there hotels in Lunga Lunga?" "Yes, but they are closed because there is a cholera outbreak there."
The heat and humidity start to take their toll on me but, with the pedal on my bike worn loose, we glide down the hill into the border town before sundown.
A local lad repairs my bike in 5 minutes and Bjorn and I take a room each at a local guesthouse. It is the first time I have had my own room since I left England. It is a flee pit with character and nice staff. We cannot eat dinner because of the cholera outbreak. Neither do I shower in the potentially dangerous water. Instead, I am in bed by 7pm in my 1.25 pound room.
Sunday, April 18
We are up early as it is time to hit the road and for me to do my first long-distance cycling.
We take the Mombasa Ferry to the south shore and begin the journey towards Tanzania. I feel stressed but relieved to finally get going. I don't know how far I am capable of cycling.
To be honest, I did not train for this before I came to Africa. I like cycling around Riga in the summer but a cycling holiday would be my idea of hell.
After a kilometre or two it starts raining. It rains hard like it usually rains near the Equator this time of year. The cycling is tough but I surprise myself with my initial staying power. That said, the road is generally good. Having set off around 7.30am we call it a day 5 hours later with about 60kms on the clock.
Home for the night is a Muslim family's house in a village named "mangrove" in Swahili. Rafiki Kenia (a Dutch Foundation) have put money into the village providing an excellent medical centre, electricity and clean water.
We walk to the local mangrove and afterwards enjoy dinner with some family members of the Dingo Tribe.
Saturday, April 17
In the morning we visited a local school where some of the former street boys are now studying. One boy, for example, is 14 but is in a class with 11-year-olds. He feels foolish, but he isn't. He is a good lad on the road to full rehabilitation from the street.
After the school it is time to find myself a bike. After 3 hours of fun and games I purchase my bicycle for the trip. He is called Mr. Mombasa. He cost 5500 Kenyan Schillings (about 45 pounds). He was made in China and needs to last me to South Africa.
Later some of the Dutch girls working in Mombasa took us to the Dickson Children's orphanage where they work. It was supposed to be Maartje's last day in Kenya but a certain volcano in Iceland meant that she couldn't get home.
We met around half a dozen young Dutch girls who are volunteering in Mombasa. Their lives are not easy. They are doing a lot of good and I would call them angels.
The 60,000 orphans aged 0-18 in the city of Mombasa need their help and ours.
Friday, April 16
We got up at 5am and watched a couple of the young lads prepare tea for all the boys in the home. After a breakfast of tea and bread we left Shamak and the other lads to meet the guys who are still living and sleeping on the street.
We arrived at an otherwise deserted field to find 25 boys stood around a temporary fire burning tyres and flip flops to get high. At least half were sniffing glue, dogs snarling and fighting all around them. Glue is the cheapest thing to get high on and, like any addiction, screws up the boys' lives.
We came to meet the boys and play football with them. A couple of them were edgy and slightly confrontational with us, but the vast majority welcomed us in. Two Norwegians (both ex-professionals) and one Englishman joined 20 or so street boys in torrential rain on a pitch that consisted of sand, huge puddles and rock. It resembled pictures of the terrain in the trenches of World War I
I have played in thousands of football matches in my life but this was perhaps my favourite. The boys, despite their problems, showed discipline, team spirit, a desire to win and played fairly.
The right winger on my side could dribble and cross the ball like a pro. How good would he be if he could get off the street?
My side lost the game 6-4. I scored two, including the goal of the game - a spectacular volley :) I also provided the biggest laugh of the day when I slipped in an almighty puddle, flew up in the air and landed horizontally in the water. Even the most drugged up of the boys laughed aloud.
I will always remember my time with the glue boys of Mombasa. I hope they make it off the street.