Expedition H2O, the epic motorcycle charity expedition from Pretoria for Madrid, has safely reached Abuja Nigeria after making it through treacherously muddy and mountainous terrain in Cameroon and eastern Nigeria.
Just over a month ago, on 16 September 2023, two old friends from Pretoria University’s Sonop Residence, Dr Jean Cooper and Dr De Witt Oosthuizen, embarked on a 16 000km motorcycle journey from Pretoria, along the West Coast of Africa, to Madrid.
Cooper is a world-renowned organizational psychologist, who is the Chief People and Culture Officer at fintech company Direct Transact, while Oosthuizen is an acclaimed emergency medicine doctor from Wangaratta in the Australian Outback.
The duo are traversing about 20 African countries, though muddy rivers, sand, heat and long stretches of open road, for the benefit of the Direct Transact Foundation’s water relief initiatives for disadvantaged communities in the rural Free State.
Currently in Abudja Nigeria and heading to Lagos tomorrow, they are expected to reach Ghana in the coming week, where they will be hosted by the Ghanaian Deputy Minister of Education.
Over the past few days they have crossed countless muddy rivers, including the Congo River with their bikes delicately balanced on carved out canoes made of tree trunks, and even stayed in a village chief’s homestead on the border of Cameroon and Nigeria near the Donga River. The two friends are bruised and battered from several falls on their heavy bikes through tough terrain and Cooper has a swollen, sprained ankle.
“I would say the five greatest highlights of the trip so far have been encountering gorillas on the road in the Congo, the friendliness and hospitality of people along the way, incredibly good tar roads, the Congo River, and crossing the Equator,” said Cooper.
So far, the journey has passed through souther Botwana, northern Namibia, Angola, DRC, Congo, Gabon, and Cameroon. After Nigeria they will continue onto Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Morocco and finally Gibraltar and Spain. They have contingency plans to reroute along the way if any issues arise – the route is not set in stone and will be played by ear.
“We are attempting this without any ground support staff to make it a journey of epic proportions over a planned period of three months. It is a great dream come true for us, as two middle-aged men, to attempt something like this. Many of the consulates where we applied for visas were surprised, reacting with a mixture of awe and suspicion that we were even attempting this, but we are inspired to do this. We do this for a great cause, and we do this to prove to ourselves, our children and our communities that anything is possible if you set your mind to it,” says Cooper.
The expedition’s ultimate mission is to raise funds for water tank installations in under-resourced communities in the Warden rural area of the Free State in South Africa. The duo are also raising awareness about water conservation and leadership through the photo stories, interviews, blogs and social media posts they are sharing all along the journey.
Sponsors and partners of Expedition H2O include The World Wide Fund for Nature, the Direct Transact Foundation, computing company Stratus, The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, Trax Moto Silver Lakes, JoJo Tanks, AQUAffection and its #surpluswater2025 campaign, Sithabile Technology, Vodacom, The V&A Waterfront, Roses Artisanal Delicacies, Classic Overland, Kudu Grills, African Charcoal Company, Canon and Outdoor Photo.
“Our goal is to raise R3.2m – R200 for each kilometre that we will be riding. This will cover our costs and install a further 100 tanks – enough to supply water to 4800 people! Every 3.5km (R700) gives access to water to one person. Every 14km (R2 800) to one family. And every 160km (R32 000) will sponsor one tank – enough for 12 families.”
To make their mission a success, Expedition H2O needs the public’s help. “We ask you to please support our mission on Back-a-buddy. We hope to exemplify the type of leadership needed to transform our continent’s water crisis – leadership that takes action and puts one foot in front of the other. We all need leadership that takes it back to basics, pragmatic and collaborative, that does not give up when things get tough or when government support is lacking – leadership that takes things forward in the spirit of ubuntu.”
The Ezenzeleni community outside Warden had no reliable access to running water until the Direct Transact Foundation got involved two years ago. Community leaders joined hands with the Direct Transact Foundation and today 45 JoJo rainwater tanks supply the community of Ezenzeleni, and 20 tanks supply water in neighbouring Tweeling, all together providing water to 3120 people. Fruit trees planted beside every tank also provide nourishment to the people of these communities. “We want to extend this campaign to more communities in the Warden area that are equally in need of help and who also have the will and drive to use this gift to help themselves,” says Cooper.
To contribute, please donate via Back-a-buddy, or make an EFT directly to The Direct Transact Foundation Trust, Standard Bank Account Nr 013358197, Branch Code 051001, using the reference “H2O”. Article 18A certificates will be issued to all donors upon request.
Interview opportunities and story updates along the journey:
email@example.com (expedition assistant) & firstname.lastname@example.org / +27 76 280 9411 (media relations)