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Early in August Kingsley Holgate and his Expedition team set off in a pair of Land Rover Discoverys to criss-cross remote Mozambique on a mission to change lives with free cataract operations. More than 2,000km later, the team has safely returned from its ‘Vision Mission’ having given the gift of sight to over 130 patients.
Using their expedition Land Rover Discoverys and the big ‘Ma Robert’ pontoon boat named after Dr David Livingstone’s first mechanised boat on the Zambezi River, Kingsley and crew assisted with the pre-screening and transport of patients to two mobile operating theatres set up at the Marromeu government hospital.
“The Discoverys’ seating configuration was ideal for this work and the team was able to transport up to nine patients at a time,” said Kingsley Holgate. “Even with a heavy load and all of our kit on the roof racks, the Discoverys’ off-road capabilities made short work of the narrow, bumpy footpaths and bicycle tracks to reach the isolated villages.”
The vast, 18,000 square kilometer Zambezi River Delta has never had an eye surgery outreach like this before. More than 1,300 people were screened and over 130 specialist eye surgeries completed by the Doctors for Life volunteer team – including five children and a life-saving removal of a large, cancerous growth.
Other patients were flown out of the Delta by a Mercy Air helicopter, and using an expedition Discovery the team raced another desperately ill patient to the Marromeu Hospital for urgent, life-saving medical treatment.
Covering treacherous terrain and enduring fierce weather conditions, the team also provided hundreds of poor-sighted people who didn’t require eye surgery with reading glasses, as part of the Land Rover-supported Mashozi’s Rite to Sight programme. More than 200,000 pairs of spectacles have been delivered to recipients as part of the programme to date.
The Kingsley Holgate Foundation and Land Rover have successfully completed over 30 humanitarian and geographic expeditions – many of them world-firsts. This Zambezi Delta Vision Mission Expedition also forms part of a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Land Rover Discovery and a 2019 objective of continuing to provide humanitarian impact to thousands of people through malaria prevention and education, Mashozi’s Rite to Sight and water purification.
These two Land Rover Discoverys used on these expeditions have certainly earned their stripes. Now in their third year of grueling expedition work, they have already reached Africa’s most easterly point in Somalia on the Horn of Africa, and completed the challenging 17,000km transcontinental expedition from Cape Town to Kathmandu, which included high-altitude mountain passes in Georgia and Armenia, crossing the vast deserts of Iran and traversing the Karakoram Highway over the high Himalayas – said to be the highest paved mountain pass in the world.
“These are certainly the most capable Land Rovers we have ever used,” said Kingsley’s son and expedition leader Ross Holgate. “Our two Discoverys have each clocked more than 70,000km of difficult expedition travel, and the Kingsley Holgate foundation is grateful to Land Rover for enabling us to reach some of the world’s most difficult locations where medical facilities are virtually non-existent.”