Wednesday, 7 July 2010
The Climb 2010 Tanzania: Marc and Anna Koska interviewed on BBC Sussex Radio
Neil Pringle of BBC Sussex Radio interviewed Marc and Anna Koska about The Climb 2010 Tanzania, live, on 16th June 2010, and here's what they said:
Neil: Three mothers from East Sussex are in training to climb one of the world's highest peaks. We are talking about Kilimanjaro; they are going to do this in the Autumn, raising money for the SafePoint Trust, which is a Sussex-based charity which sends essential medical aid overseas. The organization wants to send two million single-use syringes to Tanzania, a country which has one of the world's poorest populations and the largest with HIV. Now Marc Koska set up the SafePoint Trust, his wife Anna is one of the mums who’s doing the challenge. They are both with me here. Hello!
Anna & Marc: Good morning. Hi.
Neil: Good morning. Now, let's start with you Marc, first of all, then we will hear about Kilimanjaro in just a second. Tell us a little bit of background because you have been raising money for a while haven’t you?
Marc: Yes on the charity side, but I got my background by inventing a syringe 20 odd years ago, which we now manufacture around the world in 14 factories and that company is completely separate to the Trust. But what I noticed, even though we had sold a lot (we’ve sold about two billion over the last decade, and saved many lives no doubt), but what I noticed in travelling was that there was a disconnect. The patients and sometimes the staff didn’t know why they were being supplied with this product. So there was a need to fill that gap with information and that was the purpose of setting up the charity.
Neil: Right, so the safe needle was there, but not everybody knew why it was there. It’s presumably to stop infection, stop needles being used twice and all that sort, but that’s an education thing isn’t it? I mean we know more about these things, strangely in this country than they do where they really need to know.
Marc: Yeah, it’s odd – it’s an imbalance completely, yeah.
Neil: Yeah, interesting. How does one invent a new syringe then?
Marc: Well I was wandering around the world and not really knowing what to do with my life and I was 23 years old. I read a newspaper article back in 1984, which predicted that syringes would be a major transmission route for HIV. Sadly that’s now come horrifyingly true, not just HIV but Hepatitis as well; 23 million cases apparently of Hepatitis are caused every year by the re-use of syringes and, of course, horrifyingly, they are used by doctors and nurses, and that’s where the infection’s coming from.
Neil: Is it just that they don’t have alternatives, or are they unaware as well? I mean it seems almost incredible that a doctor doesn’t know the danger of using, re-using needles!
Marc: Yeah, it’s a really weird question. It’s a great question actually but I’m not really sure what the number one reason is. It's usually predicated by no supplies or lack of supplies which then lead them to re-use sometimes, which then gets them into a habit, and the patients don’t object. But you know it's actually true, in Africa, in most African countries, when you go for an injection, you expect to feel a bit queasy for a couple of days afterwards which is sort of a mild septicemia.
Neil: Wow, so having got this on your travels, you thought, 'Well I must see if I can do something about this'. I mean that’s, I have to say – I have to say when I was reading about this last night, I said to my wife, I said there are some very amazing people on the planet. What do we do? What do we do apart from watch football, clean the house? Meanwhile, there are people who are saving lives and I, you know I hope you don’t take your lives for granted because you must have touched so many people's lives.
Marc: Thank you.
Neil: You know, and you’re the second OBE on the program today as well!
Marc: Oh, good.
Neil: The first one was a horror writer by the way.
Marc: Oh yeah.
Neil: He was a good man as well.
Marc: Oh yeah – James Herbert.
Neil: Absolutely. Anna, now was this your idea or did he say, go on climb Kilimanjaro because I need the money?
Anna: "Darling, pay the school fees". No it wasn’t like that. Marc came back from a conference in America and there was an amazing lady who said I’m going to climb (she’s Italian by the way – my Italian accent may turn Scottish – so maybe I shouldn’t bother).
Neil: We like it!
Anna: She said, "I going to climb a mountain. I climb Kilimanjaro. I want to give money to SafePoint." So he came back with this amazing story and I thought, 'Do you know, this might be my opportunity'. There’s a few of my friends and myself who have been watching what SafePoint’s been up to and, for a long time, thinking what we can do to be involved and in order to sort of give back to the system as it were. And this seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.
Neil: Hmm, yes – I’ve heard from people who’ve been up Kilimanjaro before. There’s a lot of altitude sickness involved.
Anna: Yes, yes.
Neil: You know, it’s quite high up, are you ready for that?
Anna: I don’t know if you can ever be ready. I have been told by a number of people it doesn’t matter how fit you are, if it grabs you, it grabs you. So we are talking to a few specialists in altitude sickness and how to sort of acclimatize, and hopefully they can give us a few hints and tips, you know?
Neil: See, when they do Everest, they go up and down it a few times don’t they?
Neil: I can't imagine you would want to do that, you’d say ‘To hell with it, let's just have the sickness – bring it on’.
Neil: It can be very unpleasant – anyway it’s all for a tremendous cause.
Anna: It is, it is, yes.
Neil: Do you have much time? You sound a busy couple, do you have much time for family and all that sort of stuff?
Anna: We do. It’s amazing - we can squeeze it all in.
Neil: You squeeze it all in. I’m in awe, I’m in awe! What’s the family like then (size)?
Anna: We’ve got three kids, three dogs, four chickens, two cats – and they are all family you understand?
Neil: Which is tremendous stuff. Um now then, when do you actually do the trip then?
Anna: We take off on 26th October. We start climbing around, I think, 28th October and it takes approximately 6 to 7 days to actually reach the summit.
Neil: Well it would be amazing to follow that trip. I don’t know whether you’ve got room in your rucksack for one of our BBC tape recorders, very light things these days. Maybe we could get you to take one of those up and do a little diary for us on the way?
Anna: That’s a great idea – we could do that.
Marc: The idea is that when the girls have summited, they go straight back down to sea level. 1) because they will want to, and secondly….
Anna: ...and have a shower!
Marc: The image is that, or the ideal is that we have a container, one of these 40ft sea containers on the dock in Dar Es Salaam, which we hand over to the ministry with 2 million syringes in, which is obviously what we want to raise the money for. And we’ve set out a little program which we would be happy to explain to anyone, where, with a donation, we want to give a package back, especially on a corporate level if anyone would like to help us whereby we can, for their donation, we can give them a lot of PR and a lot of exposure on websites and in newspapers. And we’ve got some national coverage already agreed, so you know, we hope that that will balance it out and their support can be rewarded with good PR and exposure.
Neil: OK, so it's not just an individual thing; this is a 'corporate opportunity' as they say!
Anna: It is, it is.
Marc: Well we hope so.
Neil: Well, let's point people in the right direction if they want to find out more -SafePointTrust.org is the website or you can call this number: 01825 713 722 and we’ll keep those details here at BBC Sussex. Good luck to both of you, thank you.
Anna: Thank you very much.
Neil: And we will follow it with interest . Cheers!