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Into Africa for cycling couple

A YOUNG Frome couple have taken on a huge cycling adventure – all the way to Africa. As the couple cycle through Mali this week they hope to raise money for the charity Dream Big Ghana.

24 year-old Zak Mather-Gratton and his girlfriend Alice Fitzsimons, 22, got on their bikes last September and have since cycled through France, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal and The Gambia on their way to Ghana.

Dream Big Ghana is a charity dedicated to working with village communities in Ghana’s Volta region, where they develop practical and sustainable sanitation, health care, education and recreation projects. and Zak and Alice hope to raise £600 to help them build a compost toilet for a community.

Zak said, “What started out as a personal journey has now gained a charitable aspect, and being able to support the great work that Dream Big Ghana are doing is a great bonus to our trip. Alice and I had always wanted to do a long trip by bike and are both into West African music, so we decided to combine the two!

“West Africa has been fantastic and in some ways the best part of the trip, though it has all been great.   It’s nice to travel at a slow pace, and we are able to meet lots of local people who are very friendly and always surprised that we have made it this far!

“We’ve often been rescued by villagers with food, shade, and water, or been offered a place to camp with a lovely cold bucket shower included.

“It is very hot here, sometimes reaching 40C, so we start at sunrise and take a long rest in the afternoon, which is what everyone does. Luckily it’s usually easy to find a shady roadside place to get a big plate of rice for lunch and sit for a couple of hours.

“West Africa is one of the most linguistically diverse places in the world; we always try to learn the basics of the local languages wherever we are, but communication is sometimes a challenge.

“It has really been a lot easier than we had expected – nothing major has gone wrong aside from the odd bought of the usual traveller sicknesses, and Alice’s bike went seriously wrong in Senegal, but there are always ingenious mechanics who manage to get it going again with hammers and brute force!”

Zak and Alice are keeping a blog of their travels and photographing the sights along the way. To keep track of their journey’s ups and downs go to www.wheelylongway.wordpress.com

You can also help donate to their fundraising for a compost toilet at  www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/wheelylongway

Compost toilets improve sanitation, comfort, and living conditions for local communities who often have no toilets at all, and can contaminate local land and water supplies.

Find out more about Dream Big Ghana’s work by visiting www.dreambigghana.com

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