Saving lives through adventure

Aug 17, 2005
author: Kingsley Holgate

“Aah she is dancing,” says Fai Chababe with a broad grin as he looks up at the twisting groaning mast lashed to the masthead with orange red coconut fibre rope. With both hands on the tiller Captain Simba squints into the sun as he guides ‘Amina – The Spirit of Adventure’ down another massive swell. Sailing up the East Coast of Africa in an Arab Dhow loaded with mosquito nets for mothers with babie,s and backed by a Land Rover support team, the expedition is called African Rainbow. We pick up the story in Kingsley Holgate’s words ………….

Our fight against malaria is turning out to be a challenging adventure but not without the occasional obstacle. Whilst camped in the bush up north towards the Rovuma river the Grindrod branded Land Rover nicknamed ‘Stanley’ would run for three seconds and then stop dead - it must be the immobiliser we thought. We change batteries, get hold of Land Rover South Africa on the Motorola HF Radio, they are incredibly supportive and even give us a secret code from the UK with which to bypass the system – still nothing; we aren’t going anywhere from the middle of nowhere!

One would expect a rogue hippo to go for the inflatable Yamaha powered boats as we distribute nets to remote rural villages. One expects the fear of unexploded landmines and the hassle of bridges that were washed away in the last rainy season. In the Dhow we’ve learnt to handle the strong winds and rough seas when the Kusi trade wind blows wild. BUT who would expect the expedition to be brought to a complete standstill by a small fury long tailed rodent?

The blighter had crawled in behind the Landy dashboard and having merrily eaten its way through a fistful of wiring had even made a little nest of the pieces. Hours turned into days as Ross worked his way through a labyrinth of chomped wires – “Okay turn the key” – Nothing!

“Did you hear that,” shouts Gill as a rustling noise comes from the back of the Land Rover – “ the little shit’s got into the food box - he has obviously come off the Dhow in one of your bags,” and then as Ross joins the last two pieces of rat eaten wire there’s a spark, the dash board lights come on and Halala!, there’s that comforting familiar roar of a TD5 Land Rover engine.

Its dark, we squeeeeze the last few drops of Captain Morgan from the bottle and celebrate by throwing a ‘road runner’ chicken on the coals. Gill is over her malaria now and tomorrow the Landies will cross the Rovuma on the ferry built by the Catholic Fathers from Mtwara. It runs either side of the high tide and sometimes not at all. On the incoming tide the ‘Spirit of Adventure’ will sail to the mouth of the Rovuma.

Here in the far North of Mozambique’s wild Cabo Delgado province the infant mortality rate from malaria is sky high. Grindrod, thanks to your support for the One Net – One Life campaign, the African Rainbow Expedition continues to make a difference. We’ll keep you posted!!!



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