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Weʼre raising £10,000 to help eradicate human rights abuses in Western Africa.

Crockerton, United Kingdom

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" So off you go, have fun, be nice and stay cool. This ain't no package tour!!! It won't be easy. If you are a bit worried/scared/excited about what's ahead - GOOD! it's time to get serious. Be ready to think for yourself (and others) when things get difficult..." Opening paragraph of the Plymouth-Dakar road book.

In January 2019 a team of four intrepid friends (Peter, Angela, Karsten and Daniel) will be driving from the UK to Gambia in Western Africa. The aim of our challenge is to get two Mercedes Vito vans to Banjul. Once there the vehicles will be placed on a local auction to raise money for local organisations.

When the Plymouth-Dakar Challenge started in 2003 a strategic decision from the organisers gave two organisations the responsibility for overseeing The Challenge in The Gambia. These are the Gambian National Olympic Committee (GNOC) and the association of Small scale Enterprises in Tourism (ASSET).

Why GNOC? Because of the 'sporting" nature of the run. Sport brings discipline and leadership lacking in the lives of the many unemployed.

Why ASSET? Because tourism is a scarce source of foreign exchange, because employment in tourism spreads out to tens of thousands of poor families and because of the need to develop a different form of tourism leaving more of the tourists' money in the hands of local people.

The Gambia's health and education programmes, while still under-resourced, secure a good deal of support from international donors and visitors. Yet sport and tourism receive virtually no support from government sources or other donors.

GNOC and ASSET each receive 20% of the funds raised at auction to help fund their operations. The balance is distributed among local small businesses, NGOs, schools, etc.

Additionally an independant documentary film will be produced along the way to document current human rights issues affecting displaced communities or social groups in Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal and Gambia. This film is being produced in aid of Amnesty International (for further information and to make a donation please visit our Amnesty International fundraising page Banjul or Bust Amnesty International ).

Peter Shields has been talking about the Plymouth to Banjul challenge for about 10 years as his mid life crisis has developed and he finally decided to commit in order to avoid further procrastination. He is a teacher and lecturer who has travelled in Europe, The Middle east, Africa and South America, but never with the degree of uncertainty and lack of guaranteed arrival that the Banjul Challenge presents. Currently dabbling in film making, he hopes to make his first competent documentary ( on behalf of Amnesty International's campaigns in North West Africa) with is friend and co-driver Daniel. In the spirit of existentialism, it's at least a chance to do something with a greater degree of authenticity than life might typically present. After all, what could go wrong, and why would it matter?

This is what Angela has to say about herself:

"I am Angela, an East-German born UK expat of my own will. I love my current home country for many reasons (and there are some aspects which are, let’s say, disputable at least … something starting like Br… and ending with …exit, not so cool at all!!! But let’s blend this out for the moment for there are more important issues at stake!). The Brits are generally really really welcoming, open minded, cheeky-funny in a wonderfully disarming way, very charitable and full of crazy ideas. Just like the Banjul Challenge, thought up in the inevitable country pub by some inspiring characters just out of an 19th century adventurer novel. Beat the overly organised and disgustingly money-driven Paris-Dakar-Rally (what had become of it by then) by an “un-organised”, cheap, down to earth and honest counter-event with the aim to experience a bit of an adventure for the average Joes and Josephines of this hemisphere, to not rely on anything and just get on with it, and certainly also to share whatever they can with some of our human fellows south of our immediate and saturated radar. Who could possibly resist!!!?!

I could, as a matter of fact. A chronic worrier as I am, still happily nurturing some stereotypical German characteristics, it does go a little against my way of being to drive 3500 miles from Hampshire to Banjul (what? Oh yeah, the capital of The Gambia) in a battered car, with no organised support or back-up plan, accompanied by certain risks on a highly diverse scale. Hmm.

But it is something which – deeply inside – I have always want to do. I want to challenge myself, to go out on adventures, to feel alive, and most importantly to do good. Because I can.

My beloved partner-in-life Peter had spoken of undertaking this specific challenge for years, and I heard and assured him. It was never really the plan that I would be part of it. Well, that changed. Together with our wonderful friends Daniel and Karsten we got a small but amazing team on two cars together; the journey so far has already been quite exciting, and I feel the onward journey will leave us all a little changed. I am hoping of finding a school or apprenticeship centre in The Gambia which we could visit and share experiences, and also to supply them with some material support, which is easy for us to give, and so supportive for our African brothers and sisters to continue their own path to develop and thrive.

May the force be with us!"

East German Karsten Hentschel, currently residing in Weimar, once the cultural capital of Europe and home of past pop stars like Goethe, Schiller, Liszt, Gropius, Strauss and Kani, proudly remains in the EU! He likes riding bicycles on mountain trails, a hobby where he made crashing experiances on several occations. Unlike his cycling skills he has a flawless car driving career. Trained on an old russian military truck model URAL 375D while serving military duties in the east german NVA 30 years ago, he never had a car accident. He is looking forward to checking out the wheel on the wrong side of the car.

Daniel Petkoff is the fourth member of this motley crew. He has been listening to Peter talk about the Plymouth to Banjul challenge for almost as long as he has been talking about it. He finally succumbed to the idea of joining him on his mad adventure not because he wanted to go to the desert but because he couldn't stand listening to him anymore!

He was born in Venezuela and has been around the block a couple of times. He is coming along on the trip because he wants to witness Peter's mid life crisis and document it for posterity. Daniel has zero knowledge of car mechanics but he is a very good backseat driver. He also makes a mean chai and likes to contemplate the passage of time.

If you'd like to check our progress over the next year please visit our video-travelog Banjul Challenge 2018. You'll find here a collection of entertaining short films documenting our challenge so far.

Here is the first episode to get you started!!

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Daniel Petkoff

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    Page last updated on: 1/23/2018 1:19 PM



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      About the fundraiser
      Daniel Petkoff

      Daniel Petkoff

      Crockerton, United Kingdom

      Daniel is a Venezuelan born UK citizen. Currently living in the southwest of England with his wife Olivia and two children Kalinka and Nikolai. Daniel is a yogui, osteopath and filmmaker with a wide range of interests, including human rights and socio-political world issues.

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