Aly Morad and Salah El Din Helmry to kayak 27 days in January, 2011 to draw awareness to the polluted Nile River [image via David Berkowitz]
It takes a special kind of person to stop, take stock, to imagine how our actions today will translate tomorrow, the next day, and even 100 years from now. In Egypt, with its bulging population of at least 80 million, climate change could drastically impede the quality of life. And already, Egyptians can’t trust their tap water. But 2 friends aim to change all of that by kayaking from Aswan to Alexandria in 27 days.
It’s not every day that Egyptians will see a kayak plying the Nile’s waters, competing with cruise ships, faloukas, and other larger vessels. And it is even more unlikely that said explorers would be paddling for an environmental awareness campaign.
This, at least, is what Aly Morad and Salah El Din Helmry are hoping for, they explained to Heba El-Sherif with the Daily News Egypt.
“I’m hoping to turn heads,” said Morad, who studies petroleum and energy engineering at the American University in Cairo. He will be joined by fellow rower and kayaking extraordinaire Salah El Din Helmry, a marketing student.
Preparation for the journey
The pair have set a rigorous, measured schedule for their trip, which will commence on 1 January, 2011. They will kayak 50km each day in 6 hours, breaking in between, and spending the rest of their days on land in either tents or hostels. In addition, they expect to blog about their event.
To prepare for their trip, “the duo are undergoing nine training sessions a week, split up between the morning and afternoon, with each lasting about three hours. Sessions include running, biking, weight lifting as well as kayaking short distances,” writes El-Sherif.
“I am very scared that the distance turns up to be too big. I am worried of fatigue,” said Morad.
So why would 2 youngsters put themselves through so much trouble, when they could cool off in a hipster, air-conditioned lounge in Cairo? For Morad, it’s simple. He loves the river, while El Din Helmry hopes that people will stop throwing their waste into it.
The Nile River is the source of almost all of Egypt’s water for agriculture, tourism, and industry, according to American University’s Inventory of Conflict and Environment (ICE), but it is beset with problems.
“Industrial establishments do not comply with the law and dump their wastewater untreated into surface water bodies or inject into groundwater,” according to a 2007 ICE report. Furthermore, given low levels of sanitation service in rural areas, “7% at most,” locals dump their sewage into streams, canals, and drains, leaving behind a veritable cesspool.
Although they are only 2, there is hope that more people will become interested in the country’s environmental concerns, with a particular emphasis on the Nile.
“Besides the personal achievement, I wish that what I am doing will make a difference, that it would change how people think, even if it’s a small difference … and that step by step they [Egyptians] feel for more issues,” explained Morad.
:: lower image and story via The Daily News Egypt
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