As part of a fund raising campaign for Computer Aid International that delivers vital technology education to communities in need, Microsoft Oman's Software Engineer, Nelson Ferreira, recently participated in the Madagascar Cycle Challenge.
During the 5 day cycle challenge, Nelson, along with 14 of his colleagues from Microsoft spread out across the world, pedalled a massive 420km across Madagascar, the 4th largest island in the world.
The Microsoft team's goal was to raise over £40,000 (RO 30,000) in sponsorship money, which is enough to fully equip 15 schools in Madagascar with a purpose built computer lab. Microsoft Oman sponsored £15,000 towards the cause.
In his comments, Abdullah Lootah, Country Manager, Microsoft Oman, said: "I was delighted to see Microsoft Oman part of the challenge and I hope our contribution will make a difference to those in need. The event has spurred enthusiasm, potential and excitement amongst Microsoft personnel and the challenge has shown how our staffs are keen to support no matter what the challenge is."
During the course of the ride, Microsoft team members visited a rural school in the village of Isaingy, where Microsoft engineers are helping to deploy 10 computers donated by the Digital Pipeline, a charity which champions the refurbishment and deployment of donated computers to serve the educational needs of communities in the developing world. Away from the modern comforts of daily life, the gruelling bike ride took Nelson and his colleagues across one of the most ecologically rich and unique countries on the planet, racing on tarmac roads and dusty red-earth off road trails.
Muscat-based Nelson, aged 31, who had never before undertaken a challenge of this kind, shared an interesting anecdote. "The requirement from me was to pedal an average of 100 kilometres a day for four consecutive days. The challenge was truly rewarding because the funds we raised will help change the lives of hundreds of schoolchildren."
Speaking about his preparations, Nelson said that challenge needed solid commitment and rigorous training. "I started training by riding 20km on my bike thrice a week and a 30km ride over weekends. As the charity event approached, I was hitting 80km during the weekly rides and 100km during my weekends. Supporting this cause has made me realise how those of us in developed nations sometimes take our education and daily use of a computer for granted. I think we can make a big difference to the future of people that have little or no access to technology."
Riding on the success of Computer Aid International's first cycle challenge held in Kenya in 2007 and the popular Cuba Cycle Challenge in 2008, this bike ride took a 5 day cycle in the north east of Madagascar and the participants cycled through highland villages and paddy fields, the lush tropical plantations and coastal trails.
Computer Aid International refurbishes donated computers in the UK and sends them to where they are most needed for use by schools and non-profit organisations in developing countries. It works in partnership with local people to ensure that all of its computers are used effectively by communities in need.