26 July 2007 United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador and Scottish actor Ewan McGregor is riding his motorcycle from northern Scotland to the southernmost tip of Africa to raise awareness of the plight of vulnerable children.
Mr. McGregor and fellow actor Charley Boorman will make several stops, to countries such as Uganda and Malawi, as part of the Long Way Down journey.
This is not the first lengthy ride for the two friends: their first long-distance biking trip – called Long Way Round – was in 2004, where they rode from London to New York, stopping to participate in UNICEF projects in Mongolia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan along the way.
On this recent trip, Mr. McGregor and Mr. Boorman have met with children who have lost limbs to landmines in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. After a two-year displacement due to the 1998-2000 Ethiopia-Eritrea war, hundreds of thousands of people returned to Tigray to find their homes, lands and schools heavily mined.
"Educating children about landmines is so vital for children's futures," said Mr. McGregor. "With landmines and unexploded ordnance lying in homes, fields, rivers and schools in Ethiopia and other countries, I can really see how UNICEF's Mine Risk Education is an essential life-saving intervention."
Their next stop will be in Uganda, where they will meet children impacted by conflict and see firsthand UNICEF's work in aiding the displaced through the building of temporary schools, the provision of safe and clean water, the creation of child-friendly areas and the running of large-scale immunization campaigns.
Mr. McGregor and Mr. Boorman will also meet former child soldiers whom UNICEF is helping to return to civilian life and reconnect with their families.
In Malawi, where nearly one million adults are living with HIV/AIDS, the actors will visit Children's Corners, which are childcare centres which distribute food and provide basic education to children.
Since visiting several of these centres in 2005, Mr. McGregor has endeavoured to raise money for them, while Mr. Boorman has visited and raised funds for similar places in Swaziland in 2006.
More information on their trip can be found at http://www.unicef.org.uk/longwaydown.