It is not what you think, but what you actually do that can change lives.

Archive for the ‘Sahara Convoy’ Category

Happy New Year!


To everyone that has followed my blog this year, I wish you all a Happy New Year! And that 2012 will be full of a lot of new life saving projects.  Try to remember what counts in life, and that silence is a quiet consent of all the unfairness that are taking place in the world at this very moment.  

Heaps of love to you all.

To be continued..

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Wasting Time at the Istanbul Airport


Breakfast at seven,  it was almost a sleep in. It was a very nice breakfast with egg and a lot of cheese, but I find it a wee bit odd that half of the breakfast buffet is filled with sweet cookies, baklawas and stuff like that. I guess that is something that differs from Sweden; we don not use as much sugar as they do in Asia and the Middle East. Anyway, we manage to get on the flight in time and it all went very smooth. But when we arrived  Istanbul at none, we knew that the flight to Beirut was an evening flight, at 2030. We had to do the best of it so half the group went into the nearest town and the rest of us bought a coffee and sat down in some cosy sofas. To be honest we sat there and talked for four hours before we went through the security gate. Inside the gates we had some dinner and played some snooker.

After a short while the rest of the group cam and we did some more talking, it was very nice actually to do nothing, it has been a tough drive and we have not have had the time to reflect on the journey until now.

 

The flight to Beiru twas a bit bumpy and I was a wee bit scared when we were flying in for landing in Beirut, it was heavy rain and thunder, and the landing was slightly wobbly. Yet we touched the ground safe and sound.

 

TAKAFUL people and Mohammed from Nordic Help came to pick us up at the airport at 2230 and took us to the hotel, well to the place we are going to sleep anyway.

 

To be continued..

 

Parking Trouble During Time Pressure


Being early birds as usual this Monday, we had a lot to accomplish before we can take the flight to Beirut. We were all trying to fin the best solution to find a safe place to the ambulances before we leave Turkey for Lebanon. But around one o clock we took the decision to drive to Adana to park the cars at customs.

 As usual the estimated time was not enough so we arrived to the customs in Adana with a small time marginal to catch the flight to Beirut. But before we could park the ambulances we had to go to customs and make sure that the stamps in our passports was accurate. The stamps were not okay, because we could not leave the country without the cars. Therefore we had to sort everything out with the customs, and we actually thought that we did that, but after leaving them and looking closely on the passport we realised that they had not done the right thing. During that time we had to find a safe place to park the cars, and we actually met a guy that was a doctor that helped us out to find that. However, some people in the group needed to negotiate about the price over a ‘bribe’ dinner, they did a very good job though. The ambulances are parked in a safe place in the south of Turkey, there are not more to be said about that thing. But we missed our flight.

We ended up at the airport hotel, me and Anneli went ahead to see if the hotel was affordable on our tight budget, and we actually learned one good thing, everything is negotiable, we ended up with less then 170 Swedish crowns breakfast included in a super nice hotel. I guess that it helped that we are four people chaired a room, but still, we are all very happy, I skipped dinner I really values my sleep. We are going to fly 0955 in the morning to Beirut tomorrow, nice.

 

 To be continued..

The Moon Led the way..


We had a wee sleep in with the intention to leave Bucharest around 10 o clock, however, everything went wrong. Ena burn her leg with boiling water when she was making coffee, bad burn on her leg, that was not good. When Doctor Martin and the nurse Ida Johanna had done their job with Ena we tried to get out of Bucharest. That was very difficult, and when we turned the ambulances from another dead end for the thousand of times the breaks on  the Chevrolet was totally finished, we had to fix that meaning losing more time.

Nevertheless, after another hour or two, we finally left Bucharest around 12 o clock and began our drive to Istanbul, Turkey.

We made few stops on the way, but we found a very nice place to eat along the way in Bulgaria, another country we had to pass along our journey.

However, after the dinner nothing went really well, the decision was made that we should drive after the GPS and that technic is not to be trusted, I say. We ended up on grovel roads with big holes in the way, we had already lost one car and this was really bad. Beside that the Chevrolet breaks are not to be trusted.  The atmosphere among the drivers are very tensed and some voices were raised, that is not good at all. We were a bit wary about the turkish border if they would make any hassles for us. We arrived to the border around 11 o clock at night, and when I looked at my watch I thought it was 7 o’clock, I was so wrong. THe border pass  actually went very smooth, even if some papers were not in order.  But we are doing a very good thing so I think that is why they let us through quite easily. however , the mood in the group is still not so good.

We entered Turkey around 12 o clock at night, all dead tried and we discussed about if we should stop and sleep in a hotel right away instead of driving to Istanbul. We ate before anything was decided, after the food they said that we was going to drive to Istanbul. Everyone was too tired to drive but we did it anyway.  It was a struggle but we made it to Istanbul around 4 o clock in the morning, we hired a taxi that drove ahead of us to show us the way. My instant feeling is that it is going to consume a lot of time when we are going to leave Istanbul to drive south. People are tired but the mood is a little better now when we are finally here, yet, we have to make some re arrangements to make this trip a wee bit smoother and not be on the road for 17 hours when the there is only 24 hour in one day.  Now we are all going to sleep until we wake up.

It was a very beautiful night though, the air was cold and crisp, and the moon was full.

To be continued..

Day 14, Leaving on a Jet plane, I don’t know when I’ll be back again..


We came to the airport around 2200 the plane was suppose to  leave around 0200, there was not too many people at the airport when we got there. We checked in and went into the gate; I just took my pillow and slept for an hour. We knew that the whole trip will take about 24 hours, and we will not land in Copenhagen until 2130 in the evening on the 14 of may.

Air Alger

 This flight is going to Alger, there we have to wait for 10 hours before we get on the plane that will take us to Charles De Gaulle, the airport in Paris,France. The plane from CDG to CPH will leave at 1950 and we will land around 21.30.  During the Flight two of the participants got stomach ace and felt really sick, that  probably came from the last supper we had, I think it had been outside the refrigerator for a while before we ate it.Last Supper In Alger

When we got to Cph, Muneer and Daniel came to pick us up and we were all brought home safely after our very intense journey through Europe and Algeria.

To Be Continued..

Day 13 Friday, Liberated Land and the Wall of Shame


We went up early this morning to drive straight into the desert for a couple of hours to go to the liberatedWestern Sahara, but also to take a good look at the wall of shame. The western Sahrawians have been given 25% of heir country to rule, however, that part is mainly sand and more sand. The realWestern Sahara, which is occupied by the Moroccan, is containing a long coastline and very good fishing water, the water is sold out by the Moroccans and they are keeping the profit money. 40% of the world’s phosphorus reserves are to be found in the occupied Western Sahara.On our way to the wall of shame and the Liberated Western Sahara

Liberated Western Sahara with the wall of shame in the background

There has been a conflict between theWestern Sahrawiansand the Moroccans for 30 odd years, however, the conflict is not bloody and does not get much attention in the media, and therefore I suppose it is easy to forget that there is a conflict in the first place.

One of the main reasons of this journey is to raise the awareness of this conflict to the public; I truly hope that the SaharaConvoy has fulfilled its purpose. Roger one of our proud drivers

Anyway, after a couple of hours in the back of the jeep in the desert we were all a bit dizzy; however, the weather was not unbearably hot yet. The safety limit between the Wall and the liberated land are approximately 800 meters, the sand in between are filled with tens of  thousands of land mines, so we have to be extra careful.

The wall is guarded, give and take 130 000 Moroccan soldiers, and I am sure that they had us all in eye sight though their rifle bead. Our filmmaker had his big camera on his shoulder and was a wee bit weary that the Moroccan soldiers would mistake it for being something else.

We all left the wall of shame in one piece.We stopped along the way and made a little fire and had some of the sweet tea before we went back to the camp.

We had our usual siesta before we left for our last dinner in the refugee camp area. 

 We left for the airport, with one stop along the way. We were taken to a place were a lot of delegates stay during their visit in the camps and they do not want to stay in a family during their visit. We had the opportunity to have a shower, a real shower when we was there, however,  it was very little water and no pressure in the shower as well as no hot water and it was little salty too, but “beggar cant be chooser’s” and we were all happy for the nice gesture.

Terezia, Zizoo, Jenny

We were also served a very nice dinner, with a lot of delicate stuff on, meat, chicken, rice, vegetables, salads and fresh fruits. We ate like we never had seen food before. After dinner we just took it easy and waited to go to the airport. At 2200 we got into the 4×4 and left for Tindouf, the city we are not allowed to visit without a special authorization, even this time we were only allowed to go to the airport, and we could not go back.

To be continued..

Day 12, Meeting People in High Places


Today we have met the President of the Western Sahrawian Red Crescent. The President told us that the food they are given by the UNHCR and the WFP are not nutritious enough; the people are given per person; 11 kilo flour, 3 kilo pasta, 1 kilo sugar and1 litreof cooking oil.  The unilateral food that they are eating are making people overweight but in the long run it will actually lead to malnutrition, anaemia as well as gluten allergy. It is mainly the women that are suffering from the anaemia, the women has been given extra iron tablets however, when they do not get proper food, their body cannot absorb the iron without proper nutritious food. Apparently this is a well known dilemma, but very little has been done to find a sustainable solution for this problem. Emmaus is going to look into that problem and see if we can do anything to contribute to a sustainable solution in this matter.Food

The next stop this today was to see the Premier Minister; he had only positive things to say about Swedish support and aid that are given to the Sahrawians. Further he told us that there is going to be a negotiation inNew Yorkin June where the election about theWestern Saharafuture, there is a lot of hope put into that particular meeting. The Premier Minister was also saying that theWestern Sahrawianpeople are preparing for an armed fight, but we should all hope that it will not come to that because the Sahrawians will be outnumbered by the Moroccan soldiers, by far.   Premier Minister Western Sahara

We finished our tour around midday and the heat was making us all tired and a nap came in handy. Everyone is pretty exhausted from the long drive and the heat and even if we have had a very interesting and exiting time on our journey a lot of people are looking forward to go back toSweden. And also, many of the ones with a wife or fiancé back home are probably longing even more. Frankly, I wish I had one.

 Lunch

To be continued..