June 2012: Please note that due to the very low bandwidth of African internet - it proved difficult to update our blog. We posted 'live' updates via Twitter and pledged to update the blog on our return. Sorry - it's just the way it was! Luckily there was always good old fashioned pen and paper to record events. Please keep checking back as I strive to catch-up!…..

Thank You everyone as we reach £3000 target for www.motivation.org.uk

But you can still give more if you like! Remember;

Motivation wheelchairs can save and change people’s lives.  The wheelchairs are fitted to each individual’s needs – with an appropriate wheelchair and pressure relief cushion as well as health and mobility peer training, a disabled person is much less likely to die from secondary complications.  Motivation has designed over 50 different designs of wheelchairs over the last 20 years.  This means the wheelchair user can get around seeing friends, going to school, growing up in the community and going to work, allowing them the freedom of inclusion which can turn their life around financially and socially.

Motivation helps disabled people in low income countries by focusing on improving their survival, mobility, empowerment and inclusion and they do this by:

*       Helping people stay alive by training nurses to care for people with spinal cord injuries;
*       Designing and distributing affordable wheelchairs;
*       Teaching mobility and life skills through other wheelchair users;
*       Helping disabled people to go to school and work and to be part of their communities.

Thank You All

Richard & Rachel


Indlovu hits £3k target for Motivation - Thank You

Indlovu hits £3k target for Motivation - Thank You

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So How Does It Feel?

One of the things I’ve ben asked the most just of late is “How do you feel about going?” Often followed by assertions, “Nervous? Just looking forward to it? Ready to go?”

For sure we’re ready to go, I suspect that deep down there are some nerves; but most of all I feel humble. Slightly over awed maybe. It’s incredible to think that we are here, on the starting line, just about to begin what will definitely be something of an experience. Not many people find themselves with the opportunity, will or circumstance I guess. We wouldn’t be here without the support of so many – so thank you all for your interest and support.

Blogging may take a back seat until South Africa now, as we enjoy the last few pre-departure days with good family and friends, a little to much food, fine weather – it is even possible that drink might be taken.

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One Week to Go and Reasons Why Not To!

…And so this time next week we’ll be on the train to Gatwick heading out to Durban. The Azalai is currently bobbing about of the Nigerian coast somewhere, and all being well we pick her up after the 7th May. The plan then is to head up the Dolphin Coast to Hluhluwe Imfolozi Reserve – from where we will ‘properly’ begin our Indlovu Trans-Africa Drive.

After a few days we’ll double-back, and head south and west towards the Cape aiming to be there about the end of May/early June.

I think I can say that we are ready to go now – but at T-1/52 – thoughts inevitably dwell on things we are leaving behind in order to complete what is sure to be an amazing adventure. So at the risk of being morose – a few reasons not to travel for eight months or so might be…

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Torquay is beautiful at the moment as summer has come early. You will have to travel a long way to find places nicer – as nice yes, but nicer, you’d struggle.

My Grand Parents, Ken and Margaret came down last week too. We really appreciate them making the effort as it’s quite a trek for them, and we can’t get to Abertillery (on account of the Van being off Nigeria). It was, as ever, great to see them.

There’s also a ‘condemned man’ type syndrome going on (although not quite as drastic!) Things like catching up with friends ‘the last time we’ll see you before you go”, using the last bottle of shampoo, the last rugby at the rec, the last walk with the dog to Cockington etc etc. Some poignant, the others silly. Of course I think we need to hold true to our assertion that  in the greater scheme of things eight months is a short time – and the benefits speak for themselves. (Especially if I can find a living upon our return).

We are hoping to kit ourselves out with a local rate UK telephone number whilst we are away – and I’ll be updating the website with a Contact Us page – we’d love to hear from you all  of course during our travels.

Looking forward to the Party on Friday as well. Russ, Becky, Zoe, Penny and Phil Burford have all worked really hard. There should be a good turnout and looking forward to seeing the guys from Wales too – it won’t be messy at all!

Should pick up the Worldmade wheelchair from Motivation on Thursday. The handcycle attachment has arrived here and a great piece of hardy, simple and elegant engineering it is too. Looking forward to testing it out in its natural environment. Thanks to Natalie and Chris (and everyone else) at Motivation.org.uk. We hope to edge closer to our £3k target at the party on Friday (everyone coming – bring money! We’ll bring the prizes!)

Anyway a rushed blog update  – off now to ‘the last rugby’ (at least until the Sharks take on the Brumbies at Kings Park ABSA stadium a week saturday….  Oh Yes, there’s a very silver lining!…)

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In the Press – Rugby Couple Hoping Ball Will Top Up Funds

Herald Express
RICHARD and Rachel Harris are making the final preparations for their ambitious plan to drive all the way from one end of Africa to the other.The couple, who live in Torquay, are planning to make the trip on behalf of the charity Motivation in a specially converted Land Rover.Motivation works with the disabled in the Third World and the aim of the trip is to raise awareness for their work as well as cash to help them on the ground.Richard, a former Torquay player and later vice-chairman of the club, was left paralysed by an accident on the rugby field in 1986 when he broke his neck.Now working as a physiotherapist[sic]*, Richard gets about using sticks and motorised wheel chair.In Africa and other parts of the Third World, paraplegics can’t always get the aids Richard has had which have made life easier.The average life expectancy for a paraplegic after they become paralysed is just three more years. In the developed world most paraplegics can expect a normal life span.Richard and Rachel’s Land Rover was driven to Tilbury Docks last week to be shipped out to South Africa, where the couple will meet up with it again in early May.The Land Rover – converted into a go-almost-anywhere mobile home by Kingsteignton firm OEC – will be the couple’s home for eight months.There will be a farewell ‘royal-themed’ ball at Newton Abbot RFC in a marquee next Friday, the day of the wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton.Prior to the ball is a charity match between the Torbay Sharks and a Newton Abbot Chairman’s XV, featuring former Scotland and British Lions Centre Scott Hastings.”Scott is down for Newton Abbot’s sportsman’s dinner the previous night and has agreed to stay on and play in the game and attend the ball,” said organiser Russell Baker.It is hoped the match and the ball will complete the fund-raising needed to pay for the couple’s expedition expenses.”We have so far raised a brilliant £2105 towards our target of £3000,” [for Motivation] said Richard. “We hope to get there with the help of our leaving party before we fly out.”We really would love to see as many of our friends there as possible. We think we’ve crammed as much in as possible for the ticket price and it should be a memorable night.”Ticket contacts are Rachel@harris.gb.net, and Rich@harris.gb.net or Russ Baker russbaker_uk@yahoo.com and Zoe Powell DrudgeandZoe@aol.com.

*Just for the record and for the purposes of protection of title – I have trained and worked as an Occupational Therapist, not a Physiotherapist – although I am currently not in practice and have in fact given up my job to undertake the trip! RicH

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The Road to Rack and Ruin

So we were just about there with vehicle preparation, just a quick trip to Matford Land Rover to get a spare set of keys. Unfortunately whilst in their custody, the Azalai took a bit of a bump to its roof-rack. (Accidents do happen so importantly…) The Dealer was good as gold and covered the repair, but as this happened late Friday; with shipping delivery due the following Wednesday, some quick thinking and work by OEC was needed…..


Roof Rack Damage

Roof Rack Damage - repaired T-2/365

On Monday Richard (OEC) quickly got to work and spent the whole morning attaching cargo rail to the space vacated by the roof-rack and on the immediately posterior section of sloping roof. This solution has some advantages in loads larger than the constraints of the original roof-rack can now be accommodated. OEC had sourced another wheel and Tyre. The plan was now to stow this wheel and a pair of empty jerry cans on the roof (50kg total – if the cans need to be carted full then they can travel on the tail-lift).

For shipping we decided to put the wheel and the cans on the tail-lift to accommodate the container’s height limits- that was Monday p.m. By Monday evening we noticed that the tail-lift had ‘dropped’. Not seeing any obvious cause a panicked and final dash to OEC Tuesday morning revealed that the distal levers had bent somewhat under the 50kg load. The fabricators had cut holes in them (to save weight). OEC’s Paul had questioned this at the time – but was reassured that  they would be fine! Luckily we found out in the nick of, and with some quick welding to make them more RSJ like – we were away.

The upside of these late running repairs and mods is that we know problems will arise but that they can be solved with the right people and resources (thanks OEC). The downside is that our packing and checking time was forced to the evenings. I had ten hours’ sleep total, Sunday through to Tuesday – and indeed on Tuesday went to bed at 0030, to awake at 0300 to drive Paula the Azalai up to Tilbury with Rachel……


Cenydd the dog knows something is afoot as he supervises our packing

Cenydd the dog knows something is afoot as he supervises our packing

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