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French couple undertake 21 day bike journey for local charity.

Dubai: UAE-based French couple Jean-Francois Laurent, 52, and Nadine, 51, have set off on June 1 a 21-day motor-bike journey to France to help raise Dh75,000 for a local charity.

They will travel 8,000km through Iran, Turkey, Greece, Albenia, Montenegro, Croatia and Italy to raise money for Karama-based Special Needs Future Development Center (SNF). Ahead of the charity drive, SNF students gave the couple a farewell at Anantara Dubai, The Palm Resort & Spa- where Jean-Francois works as general manager.

A 'good wish fountain' was inaugurated at the hotel's entrance for guests to drop off coins and make a wish. "All the money collected will go to SNF," said Jean-Francois.

SNF director Safia Bari said they have 38 children with special needs. "We have 22 students waiting to enroll, but we simply don't have the space to accommodate them. We desperately need funds to expand our premises," she said Bari.

The Endeavour

Sitting on his brand new BMW R1200 GS Adventure, bought specially for the cross-country ride, Jean-Francois said the entire trip has been funded by him. "I have invested around Dh120,000 including the bike - but this is my personal endeavour. I have always wanted to ride a bike home and also wanted to do charity. SNF gave me the opportunity to undertake both," he said.

Jean-Francois said that SNF needed support which is the reason he decided to do something for them. "In Dubai, there is no dearth of charity organisations to help people with special needs. But SNF is not massively supported. I have conducted many alternate therapy sessions for students of SNF and I know that they are looking to expand their scope of work. Hence we decided to help them out," said Nadine.

"Every penny collected will help us immensely," said Bari.

SNF gives vocational training and therapy sessions to students and helps them become independent. The centre currently has 38 special needs students. "Our oldest student is 53 years old. We are currently operating from a small place in Karama and have 22 students waiting to enrol, but we simply don't have the space to accommodate them. We need funds to expand our premises," said Bari.

The route

The couple's 21-day journey, spanning 8,000 kilometres will take him across Iran, Turkey, Greece, Albenia, Montenegro, Croatia and Italy. Each leg of the trip is around 350 to 400 kilometers. "Our journey will begin in Sharjah from where we will take a ferry to Bandar Abbas in Iran. From there, we will start our cross-country ride which will end in our hometown Teilhet near Toulouse, South of France," explained Nadine.

Jean-Francois said his bike is equipped with all necessary gadgets to keep them connected with family and friends. "I will be connected to a GPS tracker device (Spot Gen3) where friends and family will be able to see a live streaming of our ride. This device can send messages to people, including distress ones if needed."

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Publication:XPRESS (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Jun 5, 2014
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