By Tineke Ruijter, Rotary Club of Zwijndrecht, The Netherlands
Our adventure started on 21 October 2017. Rally teams of six Dutch Rotary clubs, accompanied by five independent supporting teams, departed from Zwijndrecht in the Netherlands for a challenging 7,500 km (4,600 mile) journey to The Gambia, where we arrived on 11 November. The trip passed through Belgium, France, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, and Senegal, through dessert areas and sometimes accompanied by local guides for security reasons.
The 11 cars that took us to The Gambia were sponsored and auctioned at final destination. The result: $50,000 to be donated to a Dutch Rotary initiative called “School Plan Gambia,” which enables young women to attend school up to and including university.
On departure, our cars were all fully loaded with relief supplies to be distributed to various hospitals and institutions visited during the trip. We transported an incubator for a hospital in Mauritania and various ultrasound machines and medical supplies for health centers in Senegal and The Gambia. All of those were donated by Dutch hospitals.
During the trip, we were warmly welcomed by local Rotary clubs such as Nouakchott in Mauritania and St. Louis in Senegal. The two Rotary clubs in The Gambia, Brusibi and Fajara, welcomed the teams with a dinner and a lunch. In Senegal the team members were invited for dinner by the Dutch Ambassador.
This challenging trip was not only an unforgettable experience for all participating team members but also, most importantly, an excellent opportunity to promote Rotary’s presence and good work in this part of the world.
The six Dutch Rotary clubs which joined us on this trip were: Texel, Harderwijk, Amsterdam-Nieuwendam, Dordrecht Johan de Witt Ter Merwe, Zwijndrecht-Waal en Devel and Zwijndrecht.
We’re already working on the next trip for 2019.