Cycling close to double the distance of the Tour de France, three Irish cyclists are now on the final stretch of their journey from Ireland to Gaza. The students, having just reached Israel-Palestine, arrived in Jerusalem yesterday and will attempt to cross into Gaza over the coming days. Their 6,000 km cycle aims to raise money in support of an emergency appeal to provide for neo-natal care and medical resources for burn victims in Gaza. The initiative came from Eoghan Quinn (21), a type-1 diabetic, after he learned of the restrictions on medical supplies reaching Gaza. .
“As a diabetic, I am completely dependant on constant access to medicine. I wanted to use my fortunate circumstance to help those cut off from the outside world in Gaza.”
They set off on their arduous journey from Ireland on June 22 and have been cycling over 150km a day, resting only once a week. “We are really looking forward to reaching Gaza”, said cyclist Ronan Sheehan adding: “we have overcome hypothermia in France, several falls, some on busy highways, and survived being chased by wild hounds in central Turkey. It’s been tough but epic.” The cyclists have been assisted by a small support crew which includes John Lyttle: “I am in absolute awe of the lads for what they have achieved so far and through my background as a student physiotherapist and first aider, I aim to help in any small way in the completion of their mission.”
The intrepid travellers have received support from around the world, including a formal motion of commendation passed by the Scottish Parliament and a reception in the Irish Parliament hosted by Irish MPs and Senators. As they travelled through each country, the team documented the trip on their website via an innovative audio blog that lets them phone and ‘phlog’ direct to the site.
According to cyclist Gearoid O Cuinn, Gaza’s medical infrastructure has been crippled by the two year long siege that has led to widespread malnutrition and many preventable deaths. “We are working with the health care charity MAP (Medical Aid for Palestinians) to try in some small way to alleviate the situation,” said Gearoid.
If they succeed, their back-up vehicle will be donated to a rehabilitation hospital that was partially destroyed in the January offensive. “Even as we prepare to reach Gaza we will continue in our efforts to raise money for our charity (MAP) via our website www.pathwaystopalestine.com said Tom Watts, member of the support team “All monies raised online go directly to their operations on the ground”, he added.
The team consists of Eoghan, a town planning student; John Maher (30), medical student; Ronan Sheehan (21), pharmacy student and Gearóid Ó Cuinn (29), law student, all of whom attended the same high school. The support vehicle travelling with the four cyclists will be driven by trainee physiotherapist, John Lyttle (23), from Derry and Tom Watts (21), from Sheffield who studies psychology. Project co-ordinator: Gráinne Quinn.
More information from Gráinne Quinn,Tel: 00-353-872181545 / 0549-920591