Race Against Time

<img src="/images/14229-13631/salt_flat_volcano.jpg” border=”0″ width=”600″>
Volcano on the edge of Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni.

The planning for next year’s trip from London, England to Cape Town, South Africa has begun in earnest.  Tom and I have been dreaming of Africa for more than two years now.  Ted had been looking forward to joining us this summer, but his injuries from the last trip may prevent him from coming with us.  I certainly hope he will recover in time for the trip.

My enthusiasm for last summer’s adventure has rubbed off on another friend and classmate though.  Jeremy, a fellow member of the PhD club, has decided to take up motorcycling and join Tom and I on our African adventure.  He recently took a weekend motorcycle course.  He has just bought a 2006 KLR 650.  To make things interesting, most of his pre-trip training will probably have to wait until the spring because winter has arrived in Toronto.  He will literally only have weeks to gain riding experience before attempting some of the harshest most challenging terrain on the planet.

It’s impossible to learn about Africa without becoming engrossed with the HIV pandemic.  There are 40 million people with living with HIV in the world, and 27 million of them live in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

<img src="/images/14229-13631/HIVroute600.jpg” border=”0″ width=”600″>
Jeremy made this graphic showing the prevalence rates of HIV (according to UNAIDS) in the countries we will pass through on our trip.  During the 90 days that it takes us to go from London to Cape Town, over 1.2 million people will become infected with HIV in the world.  We truly are in a race against time.

Only 5-10% of HIV infected people in Africa receive life-saving antiretroviral treatment.  It costs a few dollars to reduce mother to child transmission by 50%, yet only 5-8% of mothers have access to such programs.  A tragedy has been unfolding in Africa and the world has largely been watching indifferently.

This has to change.  Those of us living in priviledged societies must pressure our governments to increase foreign aid.  We must get the word out to as many people as possible that a modern day Holocaust is unfolding before our eyes.  We must support international organizations that are struggling to get treatment and prevention programs to AIDS ravaged areas.

One such organization is Dignitas International, a humanitarian organization that works to increase access to essential HIV/AIDS-related prevention treatment, care, and support, including antiretroviral medications.  Dignitas trains and supports caregivers, coordinating services with governments and grassroots groups to empower communities in their response to AIDS.

The University of Toronto motorcycle gang is raising funds for Dignitas international by selling 2008 calendars featuring pictures from the adventure Ted and I had in Latin America last summer.  We are getting the calendars professionally printed.  They are going to be stunning.  They will make fantastic Christmas presents.  And best of all, 100% of the proceeds will go to Dignitas International.  You can make a difference and have adventure shots from some of the most spectacular places on this planet at the same time.  What could be better?  

Check out the pictures that will be featured in the calendar.

<img src="/images/14229-13631/EcuadorVolcano.jpg” border=”0″ width=”600″>
This picture from the rim of an Ecuadorian volcano is an example of a picture that didn’t make the cut.  Find out which pictures DID make the cut.

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