On Saturday 24 March 2007 channel veteran Ian French’s life changed forever. The former president of Bell Microproducts Europe and his wife received a phone call informing them that their daughter, Georgia, 19, had been killed in a bus crash in Peru.
Georgia was only two weeks into her gap year trip of a lifetime, between finishing school and starting at university. She travelled with two friends, who were both injured in the crash, as they headed through Peru to the Inca Trail on their way to Bolivia.
In the months that followed it came to light that not only were there five fatalities in that particular bus crash, en route to Cuzco, but more shockingly, according to Peru’s Center of Investigation Overland Transport, 557 people were killed and 2,581 were injured in inter-provincial bus crashes in 2004 and 2005.
“We were contacted by many parents concerned that their children were about to embark on a gap year and heading to dangerous areas,” French said. “These kids have little knowledge of these types of countries and don’t realise the lack of help available when thing go wrong.”
The challenges facing those travelling in Third World countries are very far removed from the structured and organised life we enjoy in developed countries such as the UK.
It is to provide this help to ‘gappers’ that Ian French has set up GapAid, which is a UK-registered charity, and CRN has pledged to help in any way possible. We are now calling on you, the UK IT channel to help.
“Kids these days are seeking more and more dangerous places to go, places that simply do not have the same infrastructure that we do in the western world,” French said. “The foreign office is great, but it can only do so much. We want to give these kids an infrastructure that they can plug into to get help.”
GapAid will try to provide help for gappers who experience problems and this will include everything from dealing with a lost or stolen passport or ticket, to legal difficulties to serious accidents as tragic as Ian’s situation.
Technology itself has a massive role to play within GapAid. A phone number with a helpdesk, a mobile phone texting service for help, a central database of gappers and their information in case of emergency – all of these things you and your company can help provide. Ian also intends to help educate gappers about the dangers of travelling in the Third World.
“If these kids can access an infrastructure to help support them it could save lives, this market is growing now and it’s a serious problem,” he said.
A web site is being set up, but what GapAid desperately needs is funding – both personal and corporate – so it is time for the channel to dig deep.
About 230,000 kids go gap travelling every year and this number is rising. Imagine if it was your child stuck, 14,000ft up a mountain, you would want them to have support. It’s time for the UK IT channel to step up to the mark and help. Donate now.
To go to the GapAid web site click here
To download the GapAid giftaid form click [asset_library_tag 2092,here]
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