Ford South Africa invited me to participate in its #DrivesWithAMission, a global campaign that it brought to the local market. The company explains that it aims to highlight extraordinary women in their respective countries and industries as they take the next steps of their careers and personal lives with the trusted support of the Ford Ranger.
“The campaign will demonstrate that individuals have the power to change the world around them and that with the right attitude and support – in this case a formidable Ford Ranger pickup, nothing is impossible.”
The translation of that in South Africa was to invite women in media across all spheres, who are influential in their spaces, to drive its Rangers around the country to deliver Covid-19 protective equipment and gear to rural schools and hospitals.
The journey planned was 4300km from Pretoria to Port Elizabeth, PE to Cape Town, and in reverse from CT to PE, and PE to Pretoria. I was invited to participate in leg one from Pretoria to PE, which covered roughly 1200km. We were meant to depart from Ford HQ but we ended up leaving from OR Tambo side.
I was one of ten women invited on this drive, where we got to put the Ford Ranger through its paces, driving to rural parts of South Africa. The vehicles we drove were the Ranger Wildtrack, Thunder (launched in lockdown via livestream) and the Raptor.
I thoroughly enjoyed driving the Rangers across the country. They were very capable and not once did we feel unsafe. Throughout the three days we didn’t suffer any punctures or mechanical issues; and we drove through loads of potholes, washed away roads and off-roads. Having driven many Rangers before, I knew I’d enjoy the drive.
However, what appealed to me most about being part of the trip was the opportunity to go to rural parts and deliver Covid-19 protective equipment and gear to very deserving schools and hospitals. The community benefits greatly and unfortunately it was really sad to see how government doesn’t really support these poorest parts of SA.
We delivered wash basins, water tanks, and soaps to a school in the Free State. This ensures that when the kids go back home to their parents and elderly, they are able to properly sanitise and not put them at risk. It was lovely to hear from the school principal and the team who made it all possible for the community to benefit from what they created.
We crossed over from the Free State to the Eastern Cape and delivered face shields made by Ford South Africa at their factory in Pretoria to a hospital. It was once again really eye opening and heartsore to see how little help they get from government. The hospital we went to, within that vicinity, they do not have a single ICU bed. I hope somehow Ford is able to do more for them.
Personally, when I do any form of charity work, I don’t like to publicize it. However, this trip wasn’t about publicizing that Ford is doing charitable work. They didn’t bring any professional photographers along to document each step of the way. It was just us media guests.
You probably noticed from my social feeds, I didn’t post pictures of the actual handovers. It’s just the way I was brought up; and it goes without saying people deserve their dignity.
This was quite a unique and special trip for me, to be able to see what I saw; and be more aware of what is actually happening in rural parts of the country. It’s easy to get stuck in your own bubble unaware of what’s actually going on in the poorest parts of SA.
To see the recipients of the equipment and gear be so grateful and not have enough words to express their gratitude made it all the worthwhile, after driving hours and hours each day.
Our final stop in Port Elizabeth was to see more about how the Ford Wildlife Foundation is helping the SANCCOB seabird rehab centre. It was so wonderful to see penguins that would otherwise not survive on their own in the real world being taken care of. Ford SA provides them with vehicles to help transport the animals and for the general upkeep of the centre.
Ford made our trip as comfortable as they could, with a few surprises and wonderful hospitality. All in all, I’m so grateful to have been a part of this inaugural trip; and driving with a bunch of women made it even more fun!
Thank you for the opportunity, Ford South Africa. After a pretty kak 2020, this was definitely one my highlights. Forever grateful.
Recharged is an independent site that focuses on technology, electric vehicles, and the digital life by Nafisa Akabor. Drawing from her 16-year tech journalism career, expect news, reviews, how-tos, comparisons, and practical uses of tech that are easy to digest. email@example.com