04 August 2009

The Convoys You DON'T Hear About

The big convoys to Gaza are wonderful, but there are hundreds of other un-sung hero's working for Palestine. We all hear about the big George Galloway Convoys and the big ones with Cynthia McKinney and so many other high profile people, and that is all good. But, the truth is there are hundreds of smaller ones that go relatively un-noticed, despite their hard work. So today I want to plug a group of people who have worked their collective "Arses" off to bring aid to Gaza. They are now at the border and should pass though very soon we hope. It all depends on the Evil Rogue State now, so let us all wish them well and support them as they now attempt to enter Gaza with the much needed aid. Their story is heartfelt, give it a read and give them your support. And remember that every day regular unknown people, who you never hear of, manage to do amazing things for Palestine. Here is the story of "Pathways to Palestine", or in Irish "Slí Phalaistín"
Palestine - Irish Cyclists Reach Jerusalem on 6000km Journey to Gaza

Cycling close to double the distance of the Tour de France, four Irish cyclists are now on the final stretch of their journey to from Ireland to Gaza.

The students, having just reached Palestine, arrived into Jerusalem Saturday and will attempt to cross into Gaza over the coming days. Their 6000km 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 with some on busy highways and survived being chased by wild hounds in central Turkey, its 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. (Also posted are many photos!!)

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 ‘Medical Aid for Palestinians’ – MAP - 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 coordinator: Gráinne Quinn