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There’s always a lot of of curiosity from family, friends, supporters and new C4Gers about what happens on the road once the wheels get rolling. Some imagine a group of extremely experienced, well trained, lycra-clad cyclists, zipping through in perfect peloton formations, while others cross their fingers and toes and hope that we just come back unharmed. The truth lies somewhere in between. Annie Robbins from Mondoweiss described Cycling4Gaza as the perfect example of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and I can’t think of a better way to put it.

The Cycling4Gaza (“C4G”) rides always kick off on a Thursday with a team dinner and introductions. This year was no different with 40 cyclists dwindling in throughout the day from all over the world. Our welcome dinner this year was particularly memorable this year with the attendance of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (“PCRF”) Philly chapter, and of course Ahmad Abu Nammous, our 16 year old cyclist and PCRF patient from Gaza.

Friday the 19th September marked the 1st day of the ride. The route had us riding the 130km from Philadelphia to Lancaster. Things start quite early: quick and hearty breakfast, final bike checks, a team photo, a bit of nerves and a lot of excitement and we were on our way. It’s always tricky getting out of the big city with such a large group. Our tour operator Dave Walsh and his team from Best of VA Bike Tours did an excellent job at marking the route with unique postings for us to follow – however, unsurprisingly, some people got lost the first day (and the second day as well, won’t mention any names here!).

We usually spend most of the day, apart from breaks, on our bikes. A highlight of our rides is the time we get to spend with one another while cycling. I thoroughly enjoyed these stretches – meeting the other cyclists, learning about their own unique life stories. On the first day, right after our morning snack break, Ahmad got on the bike for the first time. The entire team was a bit worried about him, since he was having issues with his prosthetic leg and had been on crutches minutes before. But Ahmad was eager to start cycling. When it was time for him to join us once we were out of busy city traffic, Ahmed casually dropped the crutches and got straight onto his bike. Before anyone had the time to process this, he was already well on his way, weaving through the group, and racing to the front of the line. What he would keep reminding us during the cycle was that, despite his serious injury, he was just a regular 16 year old kid, who wanted to ride his bike as fast as he could.

Day 1 was perfect riding condition: open roads, beautiful weather, endless corn fields and a few rolling hills in Amish country. We were thrilled to make it to Lancaster and to complete one third of our ride. The second day saw us riding from Lancaster to Cockeysville. It was an easier day in the saddle – we were more comfortable riding together, and nearly everyone had mastered reading the C4G route markings. In York, we were invited by the very hospitable Quaker York Meeting house for our morning pit stop. Most of the ride on Day 2 was along the railroad tracks – upside: flat roads. Downside: uncomfortable cycling on gravel. In the evening, we grouped at dinner for a couple of birthday celebrations, followed by a ‘fireside’ chat with Ahmed. Most of us have never been to Gaza or met anyone who lives there. Listening to Ahmed talking about things ranging from his favourite subjects at school (none) to more serious issues like his injury and the three wars he witnessed deeply marked each one of us. Ahmed brought to life the cause we had all been working so hard for, and he made our drive even stronger and our goal more worthy than ever. We all went to bed with Gaza on our minds that night.

It’s still surprising how fast day 3 came, yet how long it seemed to last! It was the toughest day of riding. We were faced with a lot of steep hills in the morning fog, and still had to ride 130km at a decent pace to make sure we arrived in DC on time. Although tired from 2 days of cycling, the thought of being so close to the finish line and so close to successfully finishing C4G2014 worked wonders for self-motivation. Another wonderfully supportive Quaker house hosted us for lunch, this time in Sandy Springs, 30 miles from DC. We were delighted to have a new group of supporters join us along the last stretch as we cycled together towards Capitol Hill. The last few miles were unforgettable – everyone’s energy picked up and we rode together in a beautiful formation, cheering for ourselves and getting lots of supportive honks and words of encouragement from those we passed. This carried on all the way through to the finish line, where we were welcomed by a huge group of cheering supporters.

The final moments of cycling into our destination, meeting supporters, and taking photos together, always make every mile we cycle and every hill we climb worth all of the pain. To those who came out and greeted us in DC, who cycled part of the route with us, who joined us on the first night in Philadelphia to show their support (PCRF chapter), who hosted us in their meeting houses (the Quaker community in Pennsylvania and Maryland) – thank you for your support; you gave us motivation when we most needed it. Thank you also to our long-time supporters worldwide, who allow us to keep Cycling4Gaza going and growing stronger year after year, and to our hero cyclists, who pushed through all of the pain in the name of our cause.

It’s incredible to witness 40 strangers from all walks of life and all corners of the world, driven by a common goal, come together for 3 days and instantaneously ‘click’. It’s incredible to witness this remarkable display of compassion, camaraderie, passion, and motivation unfold – and this is one of the many reasons why C4G will always be an unforgettable journey.

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Read our October 2014 Newsletter HERE!

41 Cyclists covered over 360 km from Philadelphia to Washington DC over 3 days; in support of the REACH Gaza project in partnership with the PCRF.

Thanks to all your efforts over USD 160,000 has been raised to provide vital medical care for the children in Gaza. We are now USD 90,000 away from our target! Continue to support this amazing initiative:

www.pcrf.net/cycling4gaza

Check out the Pictures Below:

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Enjoying a group massage session at lunch

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A quick rest before arrival at the hotel

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Non stop enthusiasm!

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Majorly awesome photographic skills, best C4G photo yet!

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Arrival into Capitol Hill, Washington DC on the 22nd of September 2014

Check out our Newsletter!

The 2014 cycle challenge is a few days away! Over 40 individuals will take on the US cycling over 300 km in 3 days from Philadelphia to Washington DC from the 19th to the 21st of September. So far over 150,000 USD has been raised for the REACH Gaza project in partnership with the PCRF.
We appreciate your all your wonderful support. You can continue to do so by:

1. Joining us on the last leg of the cycle or the solidarity rally for Gaza on the 21st of Septemberin DC – Meet at 12:00 p.m. at Sandy Springs Meeting Point – Click here for updates AND Click here to SIGN UP
2. Donating
3. Following us and share on: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @cycling4gaza
4. Sending us messages and pictures on Twitter #C4G2014

8 Days to go before the 2014 Cycling Event takes place in the US.

Check out the video below. A few words from Ahmed, a 16 year old boy from Gaza who will be joining us in the US for the 2014 cycle!

We are all so excited to have him with us!


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SAVE THE DATE: Cycling in solidarity with the children of Gaza
Washington DC, Sunday, September 21st

We are inviting family, friends and Cycling4gaza supporters to cycle with us on our last leg into Washington DC!

We are still working with the authorities in DC to finalize the details, However, the plan is to meet at noon at Sandy Spring Friends Meeting, then cycle down Beach Drive through Rock Creek Park ending on the south side of the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Capital. We will be providing constant updates via social media for people to join us along the way!

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More details to follow.. Stay tuned. Spread the word! #cycling4gaza #C4G2014

A few words by Annie Robbins about Cycling4Gaza and the REACH Gaza project, published by Mondoweiss.

“Astoundingly, Cycling4Gaza, a tiny non profit NGO, founded in 2009 after the Cast Lead massacre, has already raised well over $1million for health care and education projects in the besieged Gaza Strip. A staggering sum from an organization initiated by 4 young friends hanging posters on London streets to recruit fellow cyclists for their first trek from London to Paris.”

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Check out the link below for MORE:

Cycling4Gaza to stage Philly to DC trek in mid-September 

 

Thank you all for your awesome support. We have filled all our places on the 2014 Cycling4Gaza cycle in the US this September.

Registration for this event is officially closed.

However there are other ways to continue supporting our efforts.

Donate: www.pcrf.net/cycling4gaza

Check out: www.cycling4gaza.com/get-involved/

Email us: info@cycling4gaza.com

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Read All About It!

Zara Hannoun —  July 24, 2014 — 3 Comments

Cycling4Gaza is front news in The National!

www.thenational.ae/UAE/riders-needed-for-350km-us-cycle-trip-to-aid-gaza

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It is that time of year again, and Cycling4Gaza is gearing up for its next challenge. As many of you know, we have organised five cycles since 2009, covering over 1800km across the UK and France, Italy, Jordan, Turkey and Germany, with a sixth cycle just around the corner. We have raised over 650,000 GBP in support of healthcare and education projects in the Gaza Strip and in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Together with our wonderful charity partners, we have directly impacted the lives of over 8,000 children in projects focused on early childhood education, mental health support and psychosocial work, rehabilitation for children with disabilities, and maternal and child healthcare. Your passion and support continue to give us the inspiration we need to make a positive difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable Palestinians.

This year, we are aiming to increase the amount we have raised by a further 150,000 GBP in order to continue to support the PCRF’s worthwhile project and ensure that as many children as possible receive the care and support they need.

You can be a part of this effort. Join us on our upcoming cycle! The 2014 cycling challenge is taking place in the US; we will be cycling over 300km from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. from the 18th to the 21st of September. All you need to do is check out the registration pack (Cycling4Gaza 2014 Registration Pack) for all the relevant details about the cycle, fill in the required sections and email it back to zhannoun@gmail.com before the 23rd of July 2014! Dont forget to send the required documents and deposit too!

Looking forward to seeing you in the US!

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Dearest friends and supporters,

It is that time of year again, and Cycling4Gaza is gearing up for its next challenge. As many of you know, we have organised five cycles since 2009, covering over 1800km across the UK and France, Italy, Jordan, Turkey and Germany, with a sixth cycle just around the corner. We have raised over 650,000 GBP in support of healthcare and education projects in the Gaza Strip and in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Together with our wonderful charity partners, we have directly impacted the lives of over 8,000 children in projects focused on early childhood education, mental health support and psychosocial work, rehabilitation for children with disabilities, and maternal and child healthcare. Your passion and support continue to give us the inspiration we need to make a positive difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable Palestinians.

The Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) is one such charity partner that has worked tirelessly to implement healthcare projects across the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. The PCRF, a non-profit, non-political medical relief organisation, was founded in 1991 by concerned people who were looking for ways to contribute to the humanitarian needs of children under Israeli military occupation.  Over the past twenty-two years, the PCRF has treated 10,000 children through direct surgery carried out by hundreds of visiting teams of doctors and specialists from all over the world. The PCRF has also sent over 1,000 children from Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Iraq for free surgery in North and South America, Europe, Asia and other parts of the Middle East.

In 2013, the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund launched the REACH (Reaching Every Affected Child in Gaza) Gaza Project in partnership with us. The long-term aim of the REACH project is to support every child in need of serious medical care in the Gaza Strip. Last year, together with our 39 cyclists, and thanks to the commitment of our supporters, friends and families, we raised over 150,000 GBP which supported the treatment and care of 270 children through the REACH project. The funds raised will continue to treat more children throughout 2014.

Khalid Shorab, a two year old living in the Khan Younis refugee camp, is one of those children. He was treated as the first case by a visiting team of doctors from France, led by Dr. Dominique Metras, a long-time PCRF volunteer. Khaled suffered from a congenital defect known as atrial septal defect (ASD); more commonly known as a hole in his heart. The defect prevents normal blood flow through Khalid’s heart leading to reduced oxygen levels within the blood, and affects his brain and other organs. Like most families living in Gaza, Khalid’s family did not have the means to find medical care for him, neither through local private hospitals nor hospitals outside Gaza. Khalid was operated on by Dr Metras and his team on January the 18th of this year, and has now fully recovered. He is one of the 11 children treated by Dr. Metras and his team. Clearly, there are many other children in the Gaza Strip who do not receive such support, and it is our mission, with the PCRF, to reach as many of them as possible.

This year, we are aiming to increase the amount we have raised by a further 150,000 GBP in order to continue to support the PCRF’s worthwhile project and ensure that as many children as possible receive the care and support they need.

You can be a part of this effort. Join us on our upcoming cycle! The 2014 cycling challenge is taking place in the US; we will be cycling over 300km from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. this September. In the registration pack (Cycling4Gaza 2014 Registration Pack) you can find detailed information on the 2014 cycling challenge, the route, the registration procedure, FAQ’s, the PCRF and the REACH Gaza project we are supporting. If you are unable to join, or if sitting on a saddle for 7 hours a day is simply not your thing, you can still support us by helping to spread the word; and by visiting www.pcrf.net/cycling4gaza if you would like to make a contribution. 100% of all donations go directly to the PCRF REACH project in Gaza.

To help us spread the word on social media, please visit:

www.facebook.com/cycling4gaza

Twitter and Instagram – @cycling4gaza

Thank you again and we hope to see many of you soon!

Warmest regards,

The Cycling4Gaza team

Zara Hannoun, Miral Alaraj, Tala Fahoum and Tamara Ben Halim

Steve Sosebee, founder of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), talks about the REACH Gaza project:

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The partnership between the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund and Cycling4Gaza has resulted in a new era of healthcare services being provided to the 1.7 million Palestinians living under siege in the Gaza Strip.  In 2012, before the relationship with the PCRF and Cycling4Gaza, there were 18 volunteer surgery teams that went to Gaza through the PCRF. In 2013, we more than doubled the number of medical missions to Gaza, thanks to the support and assistance of Cycling4Gaza through the REACH Gaza, Reaching Every Affected Child in Gaza, project. In addition, in April 2013 we started a new project in Gaza to build up the pediatric cardiac surgery services for children born with heart disease. This project aims to identify sick babies and provide them the life-saving surgery that they need, but which is not available to them locally, as well as to train the local doctors and nurses as a way to upgrade the quality of care in Gaza.

In 2013, with the support and cooperation of Cycling4Gaza, the PCRF provided 630 children in Gaza major surgery in cardiac and cardiology, neurosurgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, urological surgery, hand and orthopedic surgery and general pediatric surgery. We sponsor missions from all over the world to volunteer their time and experience to come into Gaza and operate on children locally.  In 2013, we sponsored teams from the USA, Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Japan, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France and Belgium to Gaza. In addition, we are providing children with a variety of specific medical needs sponsorship for care locally, such as hearing aids, wheelchairs, eyeglasses and other support that their families are too poor to provide for them.

The results of the relationship between the PCRF and Cycling4Gaza has been one in which thousands of children in Gaza are getting direct humanitarian and medical support that they otherwise would not have access to. We are grateful to the hard work and dedication of the Cycling4Gaza volunteers to make this project successful and we hope that we can continue to partner for the sake of more children in besieged Gaza. Until the siege is lifted and children have access to quality medical care, we will continue to do our best to bring support and care to them directly.

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Al Madad Foundation

Zara Hannoun —  February 2, 2014 — Leave a comment

Joint Logos

Cycling4Gaza is collaborating with the Al Madad Foundation, based in London, to help expand our reach to make a difference around the globe.

The Al Madad foundation was founded in 2001 in an effort to support educational based projects for disadvantaged children across the Middle East.

Check out their website for more details:

http://www.almadadfoundation.org/

The Al Madad Foundation are currently hosting a cycling event on the 17th of May – a 67 mile journey from London to Oxford (with a lunch break of course). For more details on the cycle event and how to sign up check out:

http://almadadfoundation.org/cycle4schooling.html

Share this post with your friends and family based in the UK!

Lets all come together to help make a positive impact wherever we can!

Check out our first newsletter of 2014!

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This issues includes:

– A video from Steve Sosebee, the President and CEO of the PCRF

– A word from Tamara Ben Halim, Cycling4Gaza’s co-founder

– A story from Rami Zughayer, our first Palestinian cyclist from the West Bank, about the Germany cycle

– Updates on the REACH Gaza project from Zara Hannoun, lead organiser for Cycling4Gaza

Cycling4Gaza is currently looking for 10 passionate active individuals (anywhere in the world) to plan one event each in 2014 in support of Cycling4Gaza’s REACH Gaza project to raise funds or awareness or even better both.

Let us each help to make a difference, email me directly on zhannoun@gmail.com

Cant wait to hear from you!