Meet the “UN Guys”

27
Nov

I asked the two UN Riders from “New York, New York” to write their thoughts down. We’ve been spending a fair amount of time with them now and they are a definite part of this tight team. Peter Hood is an assertive rider who holds his own on the road, with an equal passion for the cause. Ton on the other hand is a softer spoken character, usually late or MIA (missing in action), but when you search for him you’ll usually find him chatting to the locals about their problems and circumstances – and that I respect.

Antonie De Jong

Ride On! Speak Out! Riders are getting into “the zone”!
(Antoinie De Jong)

We are bonding and operating as a team better, riding better, riding safer and in tighter formations. The spirits are high and the commitment to the cause is simply amazing. Arriving at the lodge this afternoon (yesterday) we were met with half a dozen women from Botswana and we interviewed them about their lives.

They spoke very frankly about their violence, inheritance problems, preferential treatment of boys, family planning, HIV/Aids, polygamy and other things that were on their minds and hearts daily. “Education is the answer,” and their men agree. Everybody has to participate in it. “Schools, Government, the media and parents too.”

The time is now! Families become more harmonious when gender equality is achieved and violence against women is eliminated.

Peter Hood

Unite! To end violence against women and young girls
(Peter Hood)

Wow! How could anyone not want to be a part of the solution to this truly global problem? Wanting to do something special that didn’t involve the usual celebration associated with being on the planet for 50 years, I gave serious consideration to ” giving back to society” that we are all privileged to be a part of. A chance to be an agent of change in the fight to end “Gender based Violence (GBV)”, especially one to end Violence against Women and Girls, seemed like a “no-brainer” to me.

Having been in Southern Africa for five days now makes being part of the UN Secretary General’s initiative to end VAWAG seem only natural. The marriage between UN Women and Johannesburg Harley Davidson seemed like a marriage that could only succeed. It presented a unique opportunity for collaboration between the private sector and the UN. Being a UN staff member, it seemed only natural to want to be a part of this momentous event.

After visiting two shelters in Johannesburg and listening to the testimonies of some of the women who were once victims of GBV, it was very humbling to hear their stories. I applaud these women first for having the courage to say “No!” to GBV and to share their stories. Having once been victims themselves and now act as agents of change as peer educators, it really gives me great pride to become an agent of change.

Being part of the 19 member team to end violence against women and young girls is an emotional rush like no other. From the testimonials of victims, to meeting and speaking with people at these shelters, it gives us riders the strength to carry the message. Not an easy campaign by any means, it is one that every member of the team is committed to support.

In closing Having fun with the “UN Guys”

South Africans have this knack to play pranks on new friends and our UN Friends has suffered the brunt of South African humour. Ton discover a few bricks hidden under his clothes after carrying a very heavy bag to his room, “I thought I was just tired from the riding.”

Mo advised Peter to check the water of his bike before departure one morning, the only problem, a Harley is air-cooled, and a little detail Peter forgot but caught onto after a futile search for the water reservoir.

Posted from Lusaka, Lusaka, Zambia.

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  1. janet harmuth 27 November, 2012

    Awesome event – feel privilaged to be able to follow you guys on the internet!

  2. UN Women RM Team 27 November, 2012

    Great article! Ton’s team in New York says hello. We are so proud of him and his fellow riders for participating in this historic voyage. Thanks to Harley-Davidson for believing in the cause!

  3. Monica Benjamin 6 December, 2012

    This is just amazing!.So glad to be able to follow this journey. Couldn’t stop laughing at the bricks you had to carry Ton…..tired from riding huh? Lol …. Can’t wait to hear more stories…be safe guys! Ride On!

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