This year’s goal is to collect €200.000, whereof the biggest part will be donated to Mercy Ships. Mercy Ships is an international organization that operates the largest private hospital ship, the “Africa Mercy”, in African countries along the West Coast to provide them with free medical support and training. From August 2017 till June 2018 the Africa Mercy will lie at anchor at the coast of Cameroon with aboard over 400 volunteers, including doctors, nurses and engineers. At the end of the mountain bike tour, the Bike for Africa group visits the ship in Douala, and has the opportunity to actually see the medical teams at work and visit the beneficiaries of their fundraising work.
Ilse Verhelst, CSR Manager Brussels Airlines, says: “For us at Brussels Airlines, it’s important to show the world the beauty and the potential of Africa. The enthusiasm around this 4th edition in Cameroon shows that we succeeded in promoting the African continent as a fantastic mountain bike venue, but also that people want to take their social responsibility and help improve the living conditions of the local communities.”
Besides Mercy Ships Bike for Africa will also financially support the local project Foumbot, a technical school for 700 pupils, to make further enlargement of the school possible. Another part of the collected funds will be donated to two Belgian initiatives. “Eindelijk” in Buggenhout, a day care center for 20 people with traumatic brain injury and “Samarcande” in Etterbeek which offers support to children and their families in problematic situations.
Bike for Africa was first organized in 2011 in Rwanda and Burundi with a donation of €93.000 for SOS Children’s Villages. Two years later the mountain bikers cycled through Uganda and raised €140.000 euro for CoRSU Hospital in Kampala and United Fund for Belgium. By choosing the West-African countries Senegal and The Gambia for its third edition, Bike For Africa didn’t only raise €150.000 euro, but also once again increased awareness of the Africa is not Ebola initiative launched by the airline to rebuild the continent’s reputation after the Ebola epidemic.
Ilse Verhelst, CSR Manager Brussels Airlines, continues: “Impressed as we were by the magnificent route through the land of a thousand hills that connects Kigali with Bujumbura, the idea of a mountain bike trip with colleagues in Africa started to grow in our head. We immediately linked it to our social responsibility in Africa …and Bike for Africa was born.”
b.foundation for Africa is Brussels Airlines’ CSR program, accommodating and supporting humanitarian projects in Africa, the continent Brussels Airlines considers its second home. Since many years, the airline’s employees are actively involved in humanitarian projects and show a very strong social commitment. In 2010 Brussels Airlines decided to bundle and structure those internal staff initiatives and added a selection of external projects by NGO’s and not-for-profit organizations. Its goal is to facilitate projects that are closely connected to the core of Brussels Airlines.
28 February 2018
Photos: copyright (c) Brussels Airlines / Bike for Africa