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Bike for Africa aims to raise $100,000 to help Malawi healthcare workers

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Bike for Africa, the May 30 family friendly fundraiser to send bikes and bike ambulances to HIV/AIDS community healthcare workers in Malawi, held a short preliminary event Monday at Toronto City Hall with a noon hour concert featuring Juno nominees Mr. Something Something and Pumps, Pumps, Pumps.

“For us cycling is an issue of recreation, transportation and city planning,” said Mike Brcic, Executive Director, Bikes Without Borders. “In other parts of the world a bike can mean the difference between life and death.”

Providing a bicycle or bicycle ambulance to community healthcare workers allows them to reach up to five times as many patients, reach remote communities with patient support and HIV/AIDS prevention education, and do their work more efficiently and with greater impact.

The AIDS epidemic is responsible for eight deaths every hour in Malawi. Out of a population of nearly 14 million, almost one million people in Malawi were living with HIV at the end of 2007. AIDS is the leading cause of death amongst adults in Malawi and is a major factor in the country’s low life expectancy of just 43 years.

Bikes Without Borders, a Canadian organization using bikes and bike-related solutions as a tool for development in marginalized communities, hopes to raise $100,000 this Saturday to purchase 400 new bikes and 100 bicycle ambulances that will help community healthcare workers in Malawi to reach an estimated 15,000 additional people with lifesaving medication, prevention education and additional support services.

“Healthcare workers will walk two days just to get to a clinic or three or four hours to get to the next village,” said Brcic. “If we can provide them with a bike, we can make their work much more effective and help them turn the tide on HIV/AIDS.”

Registration opens at 11:30 a.m., followed by the event from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. over on the Toronto Islands. Participants will either walk or ride their bikes from a “clinic” at Ward’s Island, to an African “village” at Hanlan’s Point.

“For an afternoon, you’ll experience the life of a Malawian HIV/AIDS community care worker,” said organizers, “bringing lifesaving medication to remote communities and performing other tasks, helping to save lives in a fun, exciting way.”

Organizers said they have several options for walking and biking that are suitable for children of all ages, and will have lots of kids’ entertainment and fun and games at the Hanlan’s Point Village at the conclusion of the bike/walk portion of the event.

Upon completion of the bike/walk portion of the event, all participants will convene at the Bike for Africa Hanlan’s Point village for an afternoon of family-friendly fun, including picnic dinner (food is included with the price of your registration) and local bands, led by Juno nominated Afro-funk band Mr. Something Something.

For more details and to register online visit Bikes Without Borders at http://www.bikeswithoutborders.org/

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