As part of a three year partnership, a team from Yamaha Motor Europe including their top rally riders visited the Riders for Health, The Gambia. The aim; to get a real understanding of what Riders for Health does, and how the money raised will be used.
The Yamaha team visiting the programme in The Gambia included world class rally racers Pol Tarres and Alessandro Botturi, fresh from the end of the gruelling 15 day Africa Eco race that finished in nearby Dakar just a few days earlier.
Organised by partner organisation Two Wheels for Life, this was the first time a team from Yamaha had seen Riders for Health’s (Riders) work on the ground, and the challenges faced by the nation here in terms of healthcare provision.
Above from Left to Right; Leon Oosterhof (Yamaha Motor Europe), Ken Diko (Riders), Bilal Drammeh (Riders), Alexandre Kowalski (Yamaha Racing Team), Pol Tarres (Yamaha Racing Team), Baboucarr Jatta (Riders), Lamin Nicol (Riders), Che Jallow (Riders), Salifu Jabang (Riders), Sakurako Umezawa (Yamaha Motor Europe). Zoë Herron Coleman (Two Wheels for Life), Alessandro Botturi (Yamaha Racing Team)
The four day trip was an opportunity for the Yamaha team to meet the Riders team as well as nurses, doctors and midwives who rely on motorcycles and other transport provided by Riders to provide vital health care to remote communities.
Visiting the immunisation clinic
THE IMMUNISATION CLINIC The team met Aminata Jallow, a mother who had walked to this health centre to get immunisations for her baby, a service that is only possible because of Riders for Health.
The team made the typically hot and dusty journey to an immunisation clinic in the village of Wallinkama. Only 40 minutes drive from the urban area, it feels world away in terms of roads, facilities and services.
Here they met women who had walked to Wallinkama from nearby villages with their babies tied to their backs. They were here to get vital early years immunisations for their children.
The immunisation clinic runs every other week at the same time and place, thanks to Riders vehicles that ensure the health professionals can travel there from the nearby town with no worries about breakdowns. The midwives here also regularly rely on Riders ambulances to transport women, often in extremely dangerous labour to hospital. The Yamaha team heard the story from just the day before of a woman who they hoped had made the journey, and who without the ambulances would certainly not have lived.
Meeting a motorcycle health worker
In the small village of Jambanjelly they met Ebrima Ceesay, a community health worker whose Yamaha AG motorcycle allows him to visit remote communities.
The team followed him as he went to visit a mother and her six month old twins who had been underweight since birth. With the help of his motorcycle he was able to get to their home to check their growth and provide vital nutritional supplements and advice.
Ebrima explained how the dusty and potholed roads, while difficult to pass at any time of year, were treacherous in the rainy season (which can run from June to October, later now with climate change) and often impossible to travel on without a motorcycle.
Riders for Health and Yamaha
The visit is very important to Riders, The Gambia who have used Yamaha motorcycles across the country for over 30 years. While the Riders team are loyal fans of the Yamaha AG (agricultural specification) motorcycles, having used them almost exclusively since the start of the programme in 1989, the Yamaha team brought along with them their Yamaha Téréré World Raid rally racing bikes. These top of the range machines with custom parts and a value of over 60k each.
The the power and value of the race bikes (each one can cost over 60k euros to build) was admired by the Riders team but Yamaha were equally awed the Riders team and the incredible live-saving power of the humble Yamaha AGs and the Riders systems that keep them running reliably in challenging conditions.
The visit is very important to Riders, The Gambia who have used Yamaha motorcycles across the country for over 30 years.
What happens next?
The partnership between the two organisations will continue until the end of 2024. The aim for the project to provide Riders for Health with financial support and raise awareness within the rally world of the charity and the importance of their work.
There will be lots of exciting ways for the public to get involved. To find out more about the project and get involved visit: