Some of you are aware of my long standing dream to attempt a complete circumnavigation of the Mediterranean Sea by bicycle, following the coastline for roughly 40.000 kilometers through 19 countries, and probably a first (no records found of this route being done). Given the current political instability in parts of the Mediterranean region, that plan is on hold .... So for now I'll stick to rehearsal and testing, and a more modest challenge, whilst being fully aware that other people are continuing a day to day struggle for safety and more - and/or equal - rights.I am not the one to connect my cycling trips and other undertakings to a cause or charity as they usually arise from a very different motivation, but more than ever I feel there's an urgency to do so. I want to take this opportunity to raise funds for my younger sister Barbara's ongoing activities in support of Palestinian schoolchildren in Gaza and farming communities in the Westbank. She has been devoted to this cause and volunteered and contributed to various projects throughout Syria and Palestine in various ways whilst living in - and later, visiting - the region. She has worked with Palestina Solidariteit (f.i. on a more ethical export of products such as dates), but has also reached out with her own inititives such as a foodmarket ran by Syrian women. I have always cheered her on, but none of this has ever been in proportion to her commitment.
Whilst my sister deserves a summer break from teaching Arabic classes and volunteering commitments, I am about to set off on a solo-bikeride between Porto/Portugal and Glasow/Scotland, essentially tracking the Atlantic coast (connecting the ancient ocean-facing Celtic regions), a European border that hasn't been redrawn apart from the natural erosion that makes it such a spectacular place. During 40-45 days I hope to travel about 4000-5000km over land, all done by bike. Over the past months I invested in gear to realise this trip and now hope to gather a similar amount for Palestinian communities, in order to fuel the far away dream of true freedom of movement for them, as I am extremely privileged to experience on a weekly basis during work and even more outside of that.In the meanwhile I've set off from Porto, have crossed into Galicia and will attempt to reach Glasgow by the 25th of August. During this same period of time I hope to receive some modest donations, and will try to check in whilst I pedal. Each donation would mean mental support and motivation to keep spinning the legs around in solitude, but way more important: it would have an actual and direct impact for schoolchildren and farming communities in Palestine.
Thank you, hugs X W
Gerard Van Menxel
Marlies- Edwin Capelle-Koenen
jos en martine verhulst-busschaert
Marleen en Jan van der Hallen Declercq