Just passed your driving test? Want to make use of your new-found freedom? Unsure what would make the ideal first car?
How about raising money for charities working at the sharp end of the refugee crisis by buying a cheap, beaten up piece of Soviet engineering with 250,000 miles on the clock and racing it across Eastern Europe!
Luckily for Pedro, he is bringing Jamie and me along with him on this adventure and we both have more experience behind the wheel than him. Unluckily for Pedro, neither of us have the first idea how to fix the car when it inevitably breaks down. We certainly have no idea how to speak the necessary Estonian/ Latvian/ Polish/ German/ Romanian/ Greek in order to explain to the police why we are stuck by the side of the road and can't move the car. What could possibly go wrong?
The Lada Rally is between Tallinn in Estonia and Thessaloniki in Greece, some 1,300 miles as the crow flies. This rally is not won by driving in a straight line at speed - it lasts for exactly one week, during which time we get points for visiting as many countries, curiosities and landmarks along the way as possible. To complicate things, we don't have a car yet - we will have to haggle something for ourselves in Estonia for less than €750. You can find out more about the rally at https://www.theladarally.com/.
The race ends in Thessaloniki where we will be delivering our car to Open Cultural Center, a charity operating in several of the area's refugee camps. We are also raising money for two other small charities as listed below – we will be buying the car and funding the entirety of the race out of our own pockets. Furthermore, my employer (Gallaghers) will match all donations (up to a cap), so every £1 donated by you will mean £2 going to the charities. Even more if you use Gift Aid. They are:
The Worldwide Tribe started off as an individual distributing donated blankets, clothes, tents and shoes in the Jungle, Calais – she had received a deluge of items from complete strangers after a Facebook post of hers went viral. As well as providing aid, The Worldwide Tribe aim to document the stories of the individuals in these camps in order to raise awareness around the world. Other work has included setting up Wi-Fi in the camps so that the residents can stay in touch with their friends and family, and building a fire wagon out of a pickup truck for use around camp. http://theworldwidetribe.com/
Aniko set up and run several football teams in the camps. The nature of the refugee crisis has changed from one which primarily requires emergency response to one in which a more long term approach is needed; the displaced inhabitants often have little to do while asylum requests are processed, which can take many months. Boredom, depression and despair quickly hit in these conditions. The football teams build community and social inclusion, mean that the members can belong to a team, and even more simply give them something to do. https://www.weareaniko.com/
Open Cultural Center will receive our bruised, battered, and beloved car upon our arrival, but no donations. Cars are invaluable for any number of tasks, such as hospital trips, supply runs or even delivering people to the airport once asylum is approved and they have a new home to go to. They aim to improve the quality of life in the camps by providing education and cultural activities as well as by constructing spaces within which these activities can take place. http://openculturalcenter.org/
Thank you for your support!