Some 100 male and female equestrians annually join the Pink Caravan Ride, an initiative by the Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP) — dedicated to promoting breast cancer awareness and the importance of its early detection. Equipped with the spirit of community activism, volunteerism and courage, the riders map the length of the UAE every year and travel hundreds of kilometres on horsebacks furthering their mission to spread awareness and hope, epitomising the noble spirit of individuals who make the happiness and safety of others their own personal goal.
These riders play a central role in emphasising the Pink Caravan’s message of the essentiality of a strong community spirit in dealing with and winning over a disease like cancer, where everyone is an active participant in the process of sensitising the public, raising support across sectors, and fortifying one’s personal responsibility for humanitarian initiatives and community service. They exert immense efforts in encouraging all segments of society to visit the Pink Caravan Ride’s clinics to get free breast cancer examinations.
Over the past seven years, more than 590 male and female riders have covered over 1,640 km across the seven emirates. They have contributed effectively to attracting thousands of people to the Pink Caravan Ride’s medical clinics and associated activities. Their efforts have reflected on the growing number of people every year who have come forward to get themselves examined.
In its seven annual editions, the Pink Caravan Ride has offered free medical examinations and screenings to 48,874 people including 32,093 expat residents and 16,781 Emiratis. Of these, 9,643 were men. Medical examinations worth AED 24 million were offered through 578 fixed and mobile medical clinics across the country.
Running from February 28 till March 6, the eighth Pink Caravan Ride coincides with the ‘Year of Zayed’, which was declared to mark the birth centenary of the country’s founding father, will see many initiatives that will celebrate his humanitarian legacy. Owing to this, the 2018 ride is anticipating a roaring response from enthusiastic and passionate horse riders, who will volunteer in the ride to show their gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifices that were made by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and reaffirm the nation’s vow to follow on his footsteps.
Badr Al Juaidi, Manager of the Pink Caravan Ride, said: “Throughout our history, horses have shaped the conscience of Arab peoples and their authentic identity as they are traditionally seen as symbols of goodness and courage. Bravery and humanitarian work are two sides of the same coin. Horses are still important and seen as a source of dependability and nobility in Arab households, despite the rapid development of vehicular transportation in the world.”
He added: “The Pink Caravan Ride takes from this symbolism and utilises the widespread popularity of equestrianism in the Arab lifestyle. Each year, the rider volunteers play a crucial role in encouraging community members to engage with the Pink Caravan Ride’s message of hope and awareness, encouraging them to come forward and take responsibility for their health and wellbeing. These riders receive a huge reception by the residents of all seven emirates every year and are joined by them in their journey of hope.
Al Juaidi has urged interested riders who want to be part of the eighth Pink Caravan Ride to register online at: http://www.pinkcaravan.ae/register/index.php
HE Mohammed Juma Al Musharrakh, FoCP board member, and a loyal volunteer of the Pink Caravan Ride spoke passionately about his experiences as part of the annual nation-wide breast cancer awareness campaign.
“The Pink Caravan Ride is one of the most important community initiatives in the UAE, which I look forward to volunteering for every year. It is a celebration that brings us an opportunity to renew the values faithfulness and allegiance to our community as we further the noble humanitarian goals of civil society institutions, which work tirelessly to ensure our health and wellness.”
Al Musharrakh added: “Participation in the ride is an honour of being part of an initiative by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Founder and Royal Patron of FoCP. It is a humanitarian initiative that aims to promote awareness of breast cancer and the importance of its early detection, making it a truly inspirational journey for me. The campaign has achieved some exceptional results in seven years, and is an exceptional example of the fact that that with solidarity, we are formidable against breast cancer.”
Rider Majid Al Suwaidi reiterated his keenness to volunteer for the Pink Caravan Ride since its inception in 2011, saying: “My passion for the campaign stems from my faith and commitment to contributing to the success of all voluntary initiatives that support and further humanitarian causes. This is what I truly found through my participation in the Pink Caravan Ride that harnesses all possible human potential to fight breast cancer.
“I am all set to participate and waiting to go-ahead by the Pink Caravan’s Organising Committee. My participation is not limited to equestrianism alone; as one of the soldiers of pink hope pink, I vow to contribute in all directions.”
He noted that he always strives to introduce children to the Pink Caravan Ride’s messages and goals to foster in them a love of volunteerism and humanitarian work, referring to the participation of children in the Children’s Ride during the seventh Pink Caravan Ride last year.
Shathra Al Hajjaj, a female rider, and one of the first participants in the Pink Caravan Ride, said: “The Pink Caravan Ride, through its immense efforts, is one of the most important and prominent initiatives engaged in the fight against breast cancer in the UAE. During the past seven years, it has succeeded in making a real difference in terms of dealing with this disease, and contributed to dispersing many misconceptions and eliminating fears surrounding breast cancer.”
Al Hajjaj added: “My participation this year will be even stronger than my previous ones. I lost my father to cancer in early 2017 as he was diagnosed in advanced stages and died three months after that. I want to dedicate my efforts to foster community awareness about the importance of the early detection of breast cancer- a safety valve that decreases risks, where medical experiments and clinical studies proved that the detection of the disease in early stage contributes significantly to the body's response to therapy and patient’s full recovery.”
The Pink Caravan Ride invites male and female equestrians who cherish team spirit, believe in the value of humanitarian work and have a strong sense of civic duty as well good horsemanship skills.
Riders must be over 16 years of age and possessing sufficient equestrian experience. With the tour around the emirates covering approximately 20 km every day over seven days, the riders must be proficient in horse handling and physically fit to participate in the ride. Applicants are subjected to technical and proficiency tests that are conducted under the supervision of a number of experts and professionals in the field of equestrianism, to ensure the good health and safety of riders and their ability to join the Pink Caravan Ride.