A crew of eight awesome guys (and a chicken) are about to embark on a serious adventure. They’re taking part in Africa’s biggest social rally, driving 8000 kilometres through five countries in 18 days. Their shared desire to dispel the myth of ‘deep dark Africa’ and experience her beauty, is made even more appealing by the charitable incentive behind the mission, which is to put new school shoes on the feet of thousands of under-privileged school children along the way
What is the The Put Foot Rally?
People often think that it’s a race. It’s not a race. It’s an opportunity to embrace, experience and showcase Africa. The main idea is to promote accessible and safe travel through our neighbouring countries and prove that you don’t need a 4x4 - your mode of transport should never prevent you from an African adventure. If the likes of an old mini, a Datsun, and a VW Beetle can survive 8000k’s, anyone can do it! 30 teams took part in the first rally in 2011 and this year 60 teams are taking part.
“It’s amazing to see the smiles, the hope, pride and dignity that a pair of new school shoes inspires in each child.”
What is the The Put Foot Foundation?
The Foundation is 100% volunteer based. A totally hands-on charity drive born out of the need to tackle the daily plight and indignity of children with no school shoes in Africa. The Foundation raises charitable funds and purchases school shoes which are then distributed along the route of the Rally. These epic events are called Shoe Drops and the participating rally teams assist at selected schools. The Foundation has already raised over R800 000 for this year’s rally and are aiming to reach the million mark before setting off in June.
What inspired you to want to take part in the Put Foot Rally?
We had heard so many amazing stories, read blogs and saw pictures of people who took part in previous rallies. Travelling in Africa is really the main inspiration. This year applications sold out in 28 minutes! Luckily, we successfully secured our place with two vehicles. Our 8 man team will be split across both cars and I guess Patriçiõ the Chicken (and CEO of Bookmark Africa) won’t mind hopping (or flapping) between both.
Tell us more about your Team: Bookmark Africa
We’re a bunch of eight young guys, all mates, from Cape Town, who share this need for a serious African adventure. We are all entrepreneurs who vary from creative photographer to IT geek and we’re all philanthropists at heart. The fact that we are business owners just makes it easier for us to take time off.
Who else is taking part?
It’s a mixed bag of adventure seekers, both local and international.
How does the rally work logistically?
The start line is in Cape Town and all teams travel north into Namibia and continue to drive in a clockwise direction through Namibia, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. Teams choose their route and do their own stop-offs and tourist activities along the way. All teams must check in at specified check points. A massive overnight check point party is held where all teams partake in some merrymaking. It’s a great way to get to know each other before continuing on our way and then meeting up at the next check point party.
All teams are required to be at their selected shoe drops. Everyone’s got a responsibility at the shoe drops, from sorting shoes into sizes, putting laces in, sizing feet, and literally putting shoes on feet. It’s organised chaos but the system works beautifully. All the kids get a pair of shoes a size bigger so there’s room to grow. They also get a little rucksack for their old shoes. Buccaneers are the shoe sponsor and every child walks away proudly showing off a brand new pair of 100% leather, locally-made, quality school shoes. It’s amazing to see the smiles, the hope, pride and dignity that a pair of new school shoes inspires in each child.
Tell me more about Patriçiõ?
Entrepreneur and philanthropist Patriçiõ E. Gazuza Galinha III is on board as BMA's team leader. Hailing from Morrungulo, Moçambique, Galinha, the founder and CEO of Frango Industries Lda, the largest chicken laundering operation in Sub Saharan Africa, brings with him a wealth of experience, predominantly chicken-related.
How has the team prepared?
A previous team generously handed over a packing list, route plan and what is needed in the vehicle. Basically it’s a bible of info that’ll save us time and energy and calm the nerves. We have been warned by past Put Foot Rally-ers that you’re stuck in a car for many hours, so we’re taking lots of things to keep us busy on the drive. We plan to refresh drivers every 2 hours and enforce a team rule that the ‘co-pilot’ or upfront passenger has to remain awake at all times to always keep the driver entertained. We won’t be driving at night at all.
The practical prep is obviously ensuring all motor spares and emergency repair kits are in order. The team are also familiarising themselves with all the rules and legal requirements for each country, including visas and insurance and necessary vaccinations.
Emotionally, we’re all experiencing lots of positive nerves. It’s a massive adventure and I think you’ve got to be prepared to slum it a bit. We’re looking forward to meeting lots of locals and supporting local business along the way. Not forgetting to respect their rules and just to soak it all up, appreciate what’s around and enjoy the ride.
Any significant warnings from previous Put Foot Teams?
We were warned that there’s lots of road blocks and bribery along the way and at border controls. When officials get wind of 60 vehicles coming in from SA, they set up road blocks to make money. We have been advised to have empty wallets and take cigarettes as a means of bribery. Also, we were advised to keep copies of everything and carry no original documentation of drivers’ licences, registrations etc.
How is Bookmark Africa documenting the experience?
We will be sharing our experiences in forms of individual Bookmarks, updated through blogs and social media platforms. These will potentially be a great place to stay, a fun thing to do, a must-see landscape, a lovely person we met, a delicious local beer or a great Kodak moment. Our goal is to make sure that everyone connects with one of our bookmarks. We want to give potential travellers the starting blocks and motivation for an African adventure of their own.
What do you want to return with?
I think we’d all like to come back with a newfound respect, knowledge and appreciation of where we’re from. We want to taste local food, meet new people and see the smiles of kids with their new school shoes. We want to contribute to local African tourism through this once in a lifetime bucket-list adventure.
Bookmark Africa will set off on their journey on the 18th June 2013.
To support and keep track of the team:
onRoute is the official media sponsor of Team Bookmark Africa! PLUS full medical kits & level one first aid training courses for the team has been generously sponsored by ER24.