August is the month of Blue Cross challenge which aims at raising funds for animal welfare. The editor-in-chief of Business Wave Africa, STEVE EPHRAEM (SE), engaged tourism entrepreneur, JANE HIGH (JH), who is the owner of Frog & Fern Cottages in Chimanimani to give an insight into Blue Cross 2023 challenge that is currently underway in Manicaland, Zimbabwe.
SE: How many years have you been holding the Blue Cross challenge?
JH: It is 28 years now.
SE: Can you outline the route which the Blue Cross challenge takes?
JH: It begins at the lowest point of Zimbabwe, The Save–Runde Confluence (162m above sea level) at Mahenye on the Save River. It goes via Chipinge, Chimanimani and Mutare up to the peak of Nyangani Mountains (2,593m above sea level).
SE: How best can you describe the Blue Cross challenge?
JH: The Blue Cross is not a race, but rather an endurance challenge through some of the remotest parts of Zimbabwe. Participants sleep under the stars on some nights, meeting rural people en-route.The amount of money raised for this deserving and beleaguered countrywide charity is channeled towards Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) all over Zimbabwe for the welfare of animals.
SE: Does everyone need to walk for the 500km?
JH: One can either walk 500km or a relay on motorcycle or can bicycle or can use motor vans. Participants raise sponsorship to cycle, walk, relay, run solo, combo discipline (hybrid) and cross country motorcycle (Enduro) to the highest point.
SE: Are you participating yourself this year?
JH: Yes. The blue cross happens in Manicaland every year and I am participating with my big Belgian Malinois dog. It is an ex-service dog from Mali. He was working in Mali for 5 years. He was trained at explosive detection. I suggested to the Blue Cross Committee that the dog and I could have a sponsored walk and people from all over the world would donate towards it. So far, it has already raised about US$6,000 for the SPCA.
SE: Isn’t walking 500km too much for a dog?
JH: The dog shall not complete the 500km but shall walk with me in a team for 25km a day. We leave on the 5th of August and we should reach the summit of Nyangani on the 14th of August. The Blue Cross Committee have found very scenic areas so we start at Mahenye. There is also a provision of backup trucks. On the Blue Cross routine, there are bush camps set up with toilets and showers. That is where people can have supper in the evening. They would wake up early morning on the following day and continue with the trip.
SE: Is it any fun to complete 500km outdoors?
JH: Yes, it’s really fun. The main issue here is enjoying seeing the beautiful eastern side of Zimbabwe. The Blue Cross is a beautiful route.
SE: How do communities benefit from the event?
JH: The SPCA drops pamphlets in written in Shona language on how to keep safe our animals and help replace broken harnesses for donkeys along the way. Some donate to school going kids some stationery and school related stuff. I can say there a firm relationship between the communities along the route and the participants. Locals are now used to see us every August.
SE: Any last word?
JH: The Blue Cross is enjoyable and social. When you are walking, you experience much more of beauty of Zimbabwe. You get a feel of the countryside.