Armed with energy, enthusiasm, determination and a bit of athleticism – Muay Thai champion Irshaad Sayed managed to ascend Lions Head six times on Saturday in his charity race for Africa Muslim Agency’s (AMA) water well drive. At first it seemed like a daunting challenge for the martial arts champion, but with cool weather for most of the day, Sayed’s load was made much easier. The fiery fighter packed in a smile and tweeted a few “selfies” to document his experience when reaching the top of Lion’s Head.
“The highlight of going up is always reaching the top,” said a breathless Sayed, better known by his fighter name ‘White Tiger’.
Although the NGO anticipated raising enough funds for the construction of 10 water-wells and boreholes for undeveloped rural African countries, the charity effort raised was boosted to 15 water-wells, exceeding their expectations. The funds were raised by donors pledging a certain amount of money and it being multiplied by the amount of times Sayed summitted Lion’s Head.
However bystanders trailing up the route were also encouraged to add donations into a box. Sayed was also supported by a group of enthusiastic runners and hikers from Ommiedraai hiking club, who joined him on two of his climbs.
With its head office in Kuwait, AMA has been operating for 30 years, providing aid across the African continent. They have four offices in South Africa with offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. AMA has successfully constructed 50 000 water wells and continues to raise more funds for their construction.
“In Africa it is not a case of people having no clean water to drink but them having no water to drink at all,” said AMA regional director Hassan Choonara, speaking to VOC News at its refreshment station at the base of Lion’s Head.
The campaign was spearheaded by a “strong willed and determined” Sayed who pledged to summit Lion’s Head six times which he successfully completed. Each summit he completed in 25 to 30 minutes attempting to keep all sessions under 30 minutes.
Despite running up and down Lion’s Head, the martial arts hero put his competitive spirit to rest as he was in no rush to complete these sessions.
“It’s not about how fast I finish it but I am timing myself and I’ve kept most of it 25 minutes or just a bit over. I aim to keep it all that way just under 30 minutes,” Sayed explained.
His biggest challenge was moving around hikers on the trail as they congregated at certain points and humid climate conditions also affected the trail.
“The biggest challenge is the people at the chains. They hold you up. Another challenge is not to acquire any injuries as the trail is quite slippery as it’s a bit wet. Rather go slower to avoid any injuries,” he added
For the final lap, he did a walk of tribute to his father and grandfather who tagged along with him up the trail.
After each major competition, Sayed undertakes to do a charity event. This he has done in China and other countries, however, this time he said he was proud to be on home soil to raise awareness for the dire need of water in Africa.
While the water wells challenge is done and dusted, deposits can still be made to:
African Muslim Agency Projects
Standard Bank Fordsburg
Account number: 002 511 134
Branch code: 00-52-05
Donate online at www.AfricaMuslimsAgency.co.za. VOC (Nailah Cornelissen)