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Health, Education & Learning Programme (H.E.L.P. International – registered UK charity 1100438) is dedicated to providing health care and education for children throughout the world who are orphaned, destitute or disabled. The funds raised through Fun Zim Ride will go directly to HELP Zimbabwe which is a locally run and registered charity based near Masvingo. It is building an orphanage in Chatsworth where children can be cared for by resident house parents, and receive training and education. It also helps with the care of children in an orphanage in Bulawayo. The AIDS pandemic has left many children without parents or other adult carers. Many children are HIV positive themselves. Secondary age children are supported to attend the local school Makomba – motto “Striving for Excellence”:
The new orphanage is part built and materials to complete it are ready - awaiting just £12,000 in funding. When complete, the home will comprise the following:
As part of the venture, Stoke-on-Trent College is making four bicycle ambulance trailers. These will be used to carry equipment on the ride with the help of two local policemen who will accompany us. When we have finished, they will be left behind to be used as bicycle ambulances or for other transport purposes given the lack of fuel for cars and vans.
Honouring the spirit of African independence
Fun Zim Ride founder, Richard Pantlin, writes:
“Back in the late seventies and eighties, I actively supported the liberation movements of southern Africa. When Robert Mugabe came to England for the Lancaster House negotiations which resulted in majority rule and independence for Zimbabwe, he spoke in Oxford and I went to cheer him on. The second Chimurenga or “uprising” led to the election of Mr Mugabe as Prime Minister and he seemed to usher in a period of reconciliation.
"In 1987, I visited and found an open, friendly and hospitable people proud of their country. I brought back a postcard which, to me, represented why we had supported the liberation struggles.
"It showed Zimbabweans going about their business with humanity, a bus representing public transport and a shop representing small-scale enterprise in the background. A baobab tree, goats and guinea-fowl showed connection to nature.
"In the last ten years President Mugabe and the “war vets” have completed a third Chimurenga. Like any war, it has been at great cost to the country. Now is the time for peace and reconciliation and rebuilding.
"I plan to take the postcard with me as a reminder of what we stood for. I was young and idealistic in the eighties. As I turn 50, I want to rekindle that spirit of idealism. At the end of the ride, I would like to present the postcard to President Mugabe in honour of what he used to stand for and for some people still does.