Who are we? SCOOTERS IN THE SAHARA: The ONLY Official website for the project which was started in 2005 by Bill Oates a member of the internet bike forum UKGSer.com
On that first trip led by Bill, 8 scooters were delivered to Bansang Hospital, together with a Mercedes Van and various medical supplies. Subsequently two further trips have been organised by Dennis Robinson, also a member of the forum, and undertaken successfully, providing the hospital with further bikes and spares to be used in the field. We start by acquiring Honda C90 cub scooters, which are then ridden 4,000 miles down to Bansang Hospital in The Gambia. This involves crossing 7 countries, 1 War zone, and a mine field; not bad for Pizza bikes!
The objectives of this ride are threefold, to create awareness for the project, raise funds and donate the bikes, equipment and expertise. These bikes are a very necessary resource that enables the hospital to reach out to the wider community and can radically improve the opportunities for medical staff to reach out to patients. In addition to donating these reliable and easy to maintain bikes, the team spends a week working, using their much-needed individual skills at the hospital.
On the first trip one of the bikes was donated to a young lady, Mariama, who lost her leg below the knee due an infection. She was at the time having to walk 3 miles each way to school on crutches. Following the theft of this machine a further bike was taken out for Mariama in 2011. Dennis Robinson said: “Teaching Mariama to ride her Scoot in 2006 was one of the most emotional experiences of my life. The Scooters have proved time and again that they are a valuable tool for the medical team at the hospital in the battle to save lives.”
Why do it? The extremely poor economy of the Gambia dictates that the Health Service within this tiny country is always under pressure to offer even basic medical services to the community. A quote taken from an email received from the CEO at Bansang just after our return from that first trip.
“Today the blood Recruiting Offier collected 27 pints of blood from voluntary donors over a wide area. This important activity could not be possible without the use of the Scooters. Just after they returned they found a pregnant woman who was referred with a haemoglobin level of 2.3. Without this blood the woman and her baby would most certainly have died, as the hospital blood bank was empty. If this had happened her other children would have been orphaned putting more strain on the local community in caring for them. ”
This scenario happens every day in Bansang and is in my view, quite simply sufficient justification, if any were needed for the continuation of the Scooters in the Sahara Project
Anita Smith (from the UK) started her work at the hospital in 1992 and has worked tirelessly ever since to assist the hospital management team in raising the standards of medical care for its patients. The official Bansang Hospital Appeal Charity was registered with the UK Charity Commission in 1997.
Anita says “Ever since 1992 I have always wished that I could dramatically improve the conditions for the infants and children on the wards at the hospital. My dream was to build a fully equipped purpose built 80 bed children’s unit. This long held ambition became a reality towards the end of 2003 and the new unit finally opened its doors in June 2006.” The hospital now treats adults as well as children. Major achievements to date include the construction of the Children’s Unit, Installation of Solar Power and the provision of an Obstetric Operating Theatre. Their current major fundraising objective is to raise £45,000 for the construction of a General Surgical Theatre. Please visit www.bansanghospitalappeal.com.
All donations go directly to the hospital appeal.