Saturday, March 14, 2009

JUNA - a typical story

"Juna escaped from two separate sets of people - her employers and a couple who picked her up on the road promising to take her to her agency. Instead she was taken to their home and locked up. Juna says little about these episodes other than that they were ‘bad people’. Her escape from the 3rd floor resulted in fractured spine and legs. During her treatment it was discovered that Juna was 3-4 months pregnant.

After Juna was discharged she was sent to Rumaithiya prison because her sponsors had filed a case against her for ‘running away’. Prisons are not equipped to deal with pregnant women and Juna suffered much spinal pain from her recently healed fracture and her pregnancy.

The police assured us that the deportation center she was going to next, was a ‘hotel’ for the maids with beds and proper facilities. But when we saw it, we were aghast at the conditions – no beds, filthy mattresses lining a wet floor, cramped with women, guarded by men who looked at them only in one way. Some of them had been there for months – one lady even going mad and removing her clothing and walking around. Two Filipino maids had been there previously and in spite of having tickets to travel, were not allowed to go – the tickets eventually expired.

We were told that if we purchased a ticket they would let Juna fly as her passport was already in hand. With donated funds we bought one and handed it in. In the mean time Juna was visited and given a back brace for her spine.

A day before the flight we went to the deportation center just to check on her – we were told she would not be flying because they had entered her name on the list as Nuna not Juna. And they refused to do anything about it...Men told us to get lost, go away and not come back, they asked us who we were in relation to Juna and even referred to one of our African volunteers as ‘Sudani’. Some just said ‘we are not going to help you’.
On the actual day of the flight, verbal fights occurred with our ids being asked for and the threat of deportation looming. One of our members simply refused to budge until something was done. She yelled Haram angrily and caused a public scene. After a long time, simply out of anger and frustration, they guaranteed that Juna would be sent to the airport that night at 7pm , 3 hours before her flight. Our member did not believe them and stayed in the deportation center from 6 onwards.

At 7 – there was no movement. 8 no movement. At 9, one hour before the flight, someone arrived and Juna was transported to the airport, with a volunteer trailing the car to make sure it did not deviate.

At the airport, Juna was on crutches as her pain had gotten very bad. Numerous times she was offered a wheelchair by Airport officials. A cleaner was so enraged that she was walking he offered to pay any costs to get her in a wheelchair. But the Deportation escort refused. When she sat down in one, the man said motioned with his fingers – get up. He forced her to walk painfully all the way from the airport entrance to her gate.

People from the airport looked on in shock as a pregnant woman with a spinal injury was forced to go without a wheelchair because he wanted it that way and had the authority to make it happen. We pleaded with him that she was pregnant and injured, but his face only said that we were wasting his time with the whole ordeal.

Although the case of Juna should be considered a victory among cases that are never even addressed, the shock of individuals who wilfully want the suffering of others to continue, makes it anything but."
Written by a very concerned and very much involved Expat in Kuwait

This is just one out of a few hundred cases EACH MONTH!!
The above story is just one... there are thousands of them! Spread the awareness and involve as many people, news agencies, embassies, governments and help organizations as possible.
I will start by sending this article to the Human Rights Watch, the U.N., the German and the American Embassy and Amnesty International. But the more letters and stories reach these authorities the better!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pictures from the Kuwait International Rally Championships 2009

Here are some of the Rally Pictures...
I hope they inspire you to come for the next Rally! :)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Final Results of the Kuwait International Rally 2009

The final results of the Kuwait International Rally Championships can be found here.
Several cars did not make it thru the Rally... running out of fuel, technical problems and unfortunately also accidents.
One of the most likable drivers, A Sheik from Oman (Sheik Hammad Althani), had a terrible accident on 'my' stage in which his car flipped over several time and his Co-Driver (Arif Yousuf, UAE) received injuries to his neck and shoulder. As far as I know, both had to be carried to the Hospital for treatment. I don't think he will ever read this blog, but I would like to wish both of them the best for their recovery! The Kuwait times mentioned the accident today with a two line quote without giving any details or names.
Another car flipped causing the total destruction of the car but thanks to the safety gear both passengers got away with no or minor injuries.
"My" team and I had lots of fun helping at the event and taking care of timing, safety and other things for 2 stages of the Rally (Salmi and Mettla).
One rather funny fact of the Rally is that the 0 (zero) car got stuck on the stage in Mettla in a rather bad position. Now the 0 car is the last car of the organizers that is checking the stage for safety and the race is not supposed to start until it reaches the finish and reports that everything is clear. The stage was cleared despite the fact that the 0 car didn't make it all the way to the finish. 4 Rally cars where already on the stage and 1 of them already finished it and just 30 seconds before I was about to start a Kuwaiti team, the stage was closed to get the 0 car out of the way. It took them over 30 minutes to get it out of the deep, soft sand close to the finish. That gave us plenty of opportunity to chat with drivers and co-drivers. We took plenty of pictures with them and in return gave them water and cigarettes (I hope FIA doesn't read this... :P ... No one is supposed to smoke during the rally, specially not close to the cars!). One of the Kuwaiti drivers (I think it was Meshal Alnejadi, a super friendly and like able guy) told me I am his good-luck-charm since i started him on another stage the other day were he drove an amazing time and he asked me if I couldn't start him on ALL the remaining stages...
A British driver (David Scialom) even found the time to invite me to the after party 30 seconds before I started him.
All in all it was a great experience and worth waking up at 4 am in the morning to prepare the stages for 5 days. I got a decent tan, a lot of great memories, met great people and can proudly say that me and 'my' team made this Rally happen despite some organisational problems!

In a few weeks the local Kuwait Rally Championships will be held and I am looking forward to assist again... maybe at a different position this time! :)

P.S. I will post pictures and maybe some videos soon! Just need to collect the good ones first! :)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

When to be where to see the Kuwait International Rally Championships 2009

The organizer, Kuwait Racing Club, put up all information on their website.
Everything you might want to know you will find there incl.:

- Maps
- Time Tables
- Regulations
- Live GPS tracking of the cars
- Results
- ...

Click here to see all the info's.

See you there!

Rally Start TODAY!

At 4.30 pm today the Kuwait International Rally Championships will start at the Kuwait towers. According to the time table, the 00 and 0 car (kind-a-like test cars) will be on the stage at 15:50 and the first Rally Car is supposed to start at 16:30...
i bet you that it will be quite difficult to find parking... so try to come early!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

"Lane of shame!"

Based on my earlier post... I introduce to you:


And just as a reminder... THIS is what a EMERGENCY LANE is used for!

I think we are OK...

... with leaving the crane up! Or ... ??
Guess not...

This accident caused a big traffic jam on Sunday on Highway 50 / 1st Ring Road

Stage Inspection / Kuwait International Rally

Today was the first time the drivers and co-drivers were allowed on the first 2 stages of the Kuwait International Rally 2009 in Salmi and Atraf. Each driver was allowed twice on the stage to scout the terrain and to complete their road book (telling them where the can drive how fast and what turn will come next). We were expecting 15-20 cars but 33 showed up. Even the event organizers where surprised by the amount of drivers taking their chances today.
This was the first time for me to be part of an oficial Rally and it was great!
We met very very early at the Kuwait Shooting Club and then left to the Salmi stage. Without getting too technical (and too proud), I am on a position called SSS (Start Super Special) and my job is basically to start the cars! :) You know, counting down form 5 and giving them the "go"!
Tday we didn't do that since it was not a race but a inspection of the stage... maximum speed for the drivers is set to 60km/h.
I met a german fellow (which whom I practiced my german again) who provided GPS tracking systems for each car. With this system Race HQ can see if they used a short cut and the respective speed at any given time and place on the stage. He's been doing this since 6 years in Europe, Middle East and Africa... another dream Job! :)
All drivers and co-drivers seemed really nice and I was surprised by the high number of Brits taking part... (mostly as co-drivers).
At noon we closed all stages and went back...
Tomorrow we'll have the same, just on differnet stages. :)

Thursday is the start at the Kuwait Towers!! Try to be there!!! Bet you I will be nice!
Friday and Saturday is the actual race... I put a time table earlier (here) but I will try to give you some more info on where exactly to go and where you see best!

Teams arrived for the Kuwait International Rally Championship

First of all sorry for being absent for a while and not coming back to all questions asked from my previous entry.

These pictures were taken yesterday afternoon in front of the Kuwait Shooting Club on 6th Ring Road just before the Doha Spur exit. As you can see, some of the bigger teams have already arrived and started preparing their cars. All of them are super friendly and didn't mind me taking pictures at all.
The Qatari Team (picture on the very top and middle) came with a total of 5 cars with mostly young talented drivers. The Abu Dhabi Team showed up with 3 cars (picture at the bottom).
If you pass there today, you will see much more teams with their cars, all busy setting the cars to the stages they will find in this Rally. Go pass by, say hello and wish them luck! :)