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Monthly Archives: January 2009

Taking the world on a bike

Image   by Irina de Carvalho

He as been to five continents and 140 countries, travelled 209,400 kilometres with around 60 to 65 kilos on his bike. Pushkar Shah, a 40-year old Nepalese born in the remote village of Dolakha, has been through many experiences before arriving to Macau in a expedition that has been going on for 11 years now. He was in Hong Kong in 2000 and missed Macau. Now in 2009, he claims he doesn't no why but feels happy to finally be visiting the territory.

On November 29, 1998 Shah set himself on a journey around the world in a bicycle to spread the message of peace. He plans to end his long life adventure this July.  “Actually, I'm travelling for a cause against war which there is a lot of different kind of fighting in the world. People are fighting for power, for land in the name of religion and this is ruining our world. We are killing our brothers and sisters, so this is a journey for that kind of fighting,” he said. When you meet him, Pushkar is very fit and he's eyes glance a man who has been travelling the world alone. A peaceful look that contradicts the exiting movement of the Chinese New Year travellers eager to see all and to experience everything in just a few days. Pushkar has been in the Special Administrative Region for one week and he says his main goal was to spend the Chinese New Year here. He describes Macau as an exciting place where different cultures mingle and cultural heritage monuments “emerge” on site.  “I will describe Macau in my home town as a very tiny place. Even if it's not a country, it has a lot of world heritage sites and there is a lot of places to enjoy like gambling and relaxing places. So I feel it's a small place but it's enjoyable and very interesting.” Shah also confessed he had gambled 100 patacas in one of the casinos, showing he has been through the main spots not to be missed. He was staying in a small pension but complained the hotels here are expensive and charge double the rates at this time of year. He lives on donations and if he needs cross ocean airline tickets he relies on the help of fellow Nepalese around the world. He contacts them through the Non-Resident Nepali Association, an emigrant organisation from Nepal with more than 50 stations around the world.   “I don't have any sponsor and I'm a survivor. I just need two meals a day,” he says smiling.  Among many amazing stories Pushkar emphasises this was only possible with his mother consent which according to Nepalese tradition must be strictly followed.  “I spent one year before leaving Nepal asking my mother for her consent. Everyday after dinner I would ask her and she would say no. Only in 1998 she gave me 100 rupies [around 10 patacas] and finally allowed me to follow my dream.”  His father was killed in a war in Nepal, and since then he has worked tirelessly for the abolition of war. A victim of torture by the anti-royalist Democratic Movement in Nepal, Pushkar has worked for human rights for more than 15 years. During his travels, he has met with many political leaders and peace activists, including the president of East Timor and the son of Martin Luther King, Jr.,  his web-site explains. On the adventures list, Shah clearly states that more good has happened to him that bad. In spite of having some thoughts of quitting, he never gave up on what he calls his “lifetime dream”.  “I was robbed 10 times and one guy kidnapped me in Mexico were I nearly died,” he recalls.  Also when he visited New Zealand, his bicycle was stolen and Sir Edmund Hillary – a New Zeland explorer included in the first English expedition to reach the summit of Mount Everest – gave him the one he has today.  “Nepal and Sir Edmund are closely connected so he was very shocked that a Nepalese was robed in his own country,” he explains.   “Sir Edmund said to me: 'the bad news is that your bike was stolen in my country but the good news is that I have a new bike for you.' He bought me the bicycle that I'm riding now.” Already 11 years on the road Shah feels “very lucky” to do this trip and fulfil his dream. “Not everyone can do that in their life time”, he says.  The world bike rider  will be living Macau today to travel to Manilla and reach Qatar right after stopping in the Philippines.  He wants to end his quest as a “Peace Messenger” showing that donations and people's good will can support a cause for peace.  After finishing his travels around the world, Shah will climb mount Everest in 2010. His next dream is to end with a  journey on top of the world where he will put the flags of all the places he has visited . “It's a big challenge,” he says.  “After that I'm planning to go back to my village and stay near the mountain to write a book about my experiences around the world. I will write a diary in four volumes with the 11 years of my journey. I've wrote already a poem book in Nepalese and a small memoir.” Before leaving the Macau Daily Times office, and as he was getting ready to take his pictures on the street with the bicycle, people's curiosity was clear. Immediately approached by a tourist from Beijing, Pushkar took a picture with him and explained his journey's purpose. Amazed the man looked at Pushkar and left as if he was one of the lucky ones. Pushkar has a plan after leaving Macau of heading to the Middle East – Oman, Qatar, Bahrein, Kuwait, and in the summer, travel to the Eastern part of Europe – Bulgaria, Armenia, Romania, Ukraine, Belorussia, Russia and then finally return home through China and then straight to Nepal.

Zimbabwe cholera cases pass 60,000 mark: WHO

The number of people infected by Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic has exceeded 60,000, the latest data from the World Health Organisation agency showed yesterday.
The death toll in the outbreak since August 2008 reached 3,161, out of 60,401 recorded cases according to the WHO's daily update dated January 29.
On Tuesday, when more than 56,000 people were reported infected, a WHO spokeswoman, Fadela Chaib, said: "The situation of cholera is not under control, it's even out of control, and it will remain so for the near future."
Impoverished Zimbabwe's rainy season is expected to help nurture the waterborne disease, which is already thriving on the country's poor sanitation and broken water systems, according to health officials.
The UN's health agency estimates that about half of Zimbabwe's population of about 12 million are at risk from cholera because of poor living conditions.
Another fear has been the growing proportion of people falling ill and dying out of reach of health care in rural areas.
The WHO said it would give more details on the state of the outbreak later yesterday.

      

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