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Not content with cycling 12,000 km across Africa to raise funds for Arclights, Alex and Merlin are returning from Cape Town to run in this year’s Edinburgh Marathon on Sunday 26 May in a final push to their crowdfunding campaign.
On World Sight Day, 11th October 2018, we set off on a tandem bike to cycle 12,000 km across the African continent to Cape Town.
We wanted to help in the fight against preventable blindness and deafness by distributing the Arclight and by training healthcare professionals to use it in all the countries we pedalled through.
The Arclight is a robust, compact, solar-powered ophthalmoscope and otoscope that works as well as traditional devices but at a fraction of the cost: it’s solar powered and uses a patented LED and therefore doesn’t require expensive and hard-to-find replacement parts such as batteries and bulbs.
In addition, it only takes one hour to train 30 students to use the device to diagnose the main causes of blindness and deafness that affect millions of people in low-income countries, so we’re providing the next generation of health professionals with the tools needed to combat eye and ear disease.
Up to this point, we've travelled up the Nile into Sudan and then across the Sahara into the steep hills of Ethiopia and on through Kenya and Tanzania. Unsupported and carrying all our own kit, we have spent nights in the isolation of the desert; rested in tranquil school grounds; stopped off at police stations and navigated through busy African cities.
The trip has not been without problems and we decided to abandon the tandem bike due to issues with saddle pressure. A lot of walking ensued...
After a few weeks of hauling our belongings by foot across the wild Masai Steppe, we were saved by Elliptigo® and Burley® who provided us stand-up 'running on wheels' bikes and trailers.
Follow our progress and share our mission on Insta / TW / FB(@tandemafrica;@arclight-tandemafrica). Track our journey through Africa on our website!
We return from Cape Town on 24 May (Alex’s birthday!🎂) and two days later we will run the Edinburgh Marathon in a final push to raise more funds for Arclights. Has a cycle across Africa prepared us (or not) for running a marathon? Will we do it, or will it well and truly do us in?🏃♂️🏃♂️
No matter what the outcome, your support is crucial.
So far, donations up to £12K have been ring-fenced for Arclights and the expedition. All donations from now on, however, go entirely towards funding Arclight devices and the associated materials required for the training sessions we carry out. This includes funds from the sale of Arclights, which will be available to purchase from the University of St Andrews website in August.
Please note all donations will be debited from your account within three to five working days - thank you! Please be assured that all funds raised will remain securely with the University of St Andrews for the purpose of Arclights now and in the future.
A big thank you to everyone who has supported us – including family and friends, the Scientific Exploration Society, the University of St Andrews, the R&A, Elliptigo® and Burley®
Together, we’ve achieved so much, but we still have so much more to do to provide the next generation of health professionals in low-income countries with the tools they need to combat eye and ear disease.
Please help us build on the £12,145 we have already managed to raise to reach our top target for Arclight.