Swiss cyclists ride 1,300 kms to raise funds

Twenty six self sponsored cyclists from Switzerland raised close to nine million birr to help the Jimma University Trauma Unit, Capital learned.

The cyclists rode 1,300 kilo meters from Addis Ababa through Lake Langano, Sodo, Arbaminch, Konso, Jinka and Turmi and back to Arbaminch, Sodo and straight to Jima. “The purpose of the mission is to collect about one million dollars to help the Jimma University Trauma Unit. The cyclists paid USD 20,000 each to take part in this fundraising event,” said the organizer Dr. Jorg Peltzer, in a farewell party held at the Switzerland Embassy in Addis Ababa. The organizers expect about 18 million birr from this project.
Dr. Peltzer came to Ethiopia in 1999 to work at Metu Karl Hospital. Then he went to Jimma University to teach. “At Jimma Hospital I taught about bone surgery and trauma. Teaching is very important to produc talented young professionals,” he said.
Capital learned that Dr. Jorg Peltzer, who is now the president of Swiss Surgeons in Ethiopia took the initiative to establish the Jima University Trauma Unit in 2006. “As a founder of the unit I am very much grateful when I see patients get treatment in this section. Treating people with trauma is extremely difficult. Imagine the pain of people who suffer burns or when the legs are amputated by accident. There was no special unit to treat these injuries. I am now happy that we have raised a good sum of money for the unit,” he said.
Judy Toillinger who lives in Austria, in Innsbruck, said that the tour gave the participants an extraordinary feeling about the situation in Ethiopia. “Contrary to what some people think in Europe, the cyclists were received warmly by the people all through the 1,300 km ride. En route to Jimma University, even in the jungle, the trip was quite peaceful. All participants were happy about the humble reception of the people. This is very important to attract tourists to visit the country,” Judy said. She added that this is a one year project.
Dominik Langenbacher, Ambassador of Switzerland to Ethiopia remarked on the occasion that it was a very wonderful people to people diplomatic work. “We are here to establish good relationships between the peoples of Ethiopia and Switzerland. But you are the real ambassadors to our country. As you know, Switzerland takes Ethiopian coffee. You have visited the land of coffee. Jimma produces the best coffee. Riding the bike for 16 days and staying the course for 1,300 km, up the hills and down the valleys, is indeed a once in lifetime exciting activity,” the ambassador said, addressing the cyclists a day before their departure to Switzerland.
The founder of Jimma University Trauma Unit, Dr. Peltzer, returned home along with the cyclists. “I will stay in Switzerland for six to eight months to accomplish the fundraising mission. “The tour was successfully completed. We are happy about that. But we have to raise more money for the cash constrained trauma unit. We are hopeful that we will be successful in collecting what we intend to,” he concluded.