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Sharing the gift of travel

Whistler couple captures a motorcycle odyssey across Africa in slideshow



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Tottle points out that many people haven't had the opportunity to travel and haven't had the chance to explore foreign languages, culture and societies.

"Even me, before I went there, I had my reservations and I was worried about violence and all of the things that you hear about (on the news) and we didn't see any of that," she said.

Cooks, a driver, and a few teachers who helped to develop and implement lesson plans based on the group's travels, accompanied Tottle, Lawson and the kids. The whole group traveled in a small 15-person van, and stayed at an educational centre in the national park.

"Even the contact that they had with us was huge, because some of them, at first, were quite shy because they didn't know us," Tottle said. 'Or, they had never talked to a white person before."

By the end of the trip, any of that fear seemed to have disappeared.

"We got letters back from these kids saying, 'Thanks for taking us on this trip because we've always learned that the Nile River is the longest river in the world, but we stood on that river,'" Lawson said.

On top of the educational initiatives through the Sean Lawson Young Travellers Foundation, Tottle and Lawson have also delivered more than 2,000 insecticide-treated bed nets to children in small villages in four East African countries, through their separate Motos Against Malaria initiative. They joined up with the Against Malaria foundation, a large organization that helps to protect young children, in particular, against malaria, as immune systems are still weak until they're about five years old.

"We went to a lot of people that were living in just thatch huts and slept on mats, so they hung the net, but it was about that far off the ground," Lawson explained, holding his thumb and forefinger about two inches apart, "so it renders it ineffective."

Since they were already planning on returning to Africa, Tottle and Lawson decided to distribute and set up the donated nets themselves, correctly, to ensure that recipients would actually receive the nets and that they would be effective.

"That was probably the most rewarding part, to know that money that was raised from our friends and family, that we helped potentially save a life," Lawson said.

This weekend, the couple is holding another slideshow event at the GLC. They want to show the communities exactly what they've been doing with the money that was so generously donated the first time around, and they hope to raise some more money for the foundation. This time, they're stepping their game up, integrating video into the presentation, and adding in more anecdotal stories to accompany the images.

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