UAE's Pink Caravan Ride begins: Riders trot through emirates, spreading awareness about breast cancer
Residents flock to get free screenings at Pink Caravan mammogram units
Published: Sat 4 Feb 2023, 6:51 PM
Last updated: Sat 4 Feb 2023, 8:43 PM
For 9-year-old Saeed, it was a novel experience riding the horse Storm through the streets of Sharjah along with ten other riders. The youngster, who has been riding since he was 5, is part of the 11th edition of the Pink Caravan Ride (PCR), which kicked off from Al Heera Beach, Sharjah, on Saturday morning.
“I like riding horses,” he said. “When we go out, people see us and come to see what the Pink Caravan Ride is. It is a nice feeling.”
The annual ride, organised by the Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP), will travel across the seven emirates between February 4 and 10, offering free screenings and raising awareness on the importance of early detection of breast cancer to tackle the disease.
The opening ceremony, which coincided with World Cancer Day, was attended by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. Afterwards, the horse riders saddled up, launching the much-anticipated ride, led by Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, PCR Special Envoy, who has been supporting the event since its inaugural session.
The PCR made several stops in the emirate, including Al Hisn in the Heart of Sharjah, before continuing their journey to Ajman at Thumbay Hospital, and concluding the inaugural day’s activity at Al Zorah Marina.
Residents flocked to get screened at Pink Caravan mammogram unit stationed at Al Heera Beach in Sharjah and Al Zoraa Marina in Ajman. Two Minivan clinics are also available at Ajman Thumbay Hospital and Al Heera Beach.
“It was a true honour to be appointed the special envoy,” said Sheikh Fahim, speaking to Khaleej Times. “I have seen how hard the team works to pull this event off. There are volunteers who joined as youngsters and have grown into teenagers who are still working for it. I urge people to get checked, learn more about the unfortunate disease and educate those around you.”
Making a difference
For friends Linda Khartabill and Rasha el Khatib, it will be the first time they will be participating in PCR. “We love horse riding and have been doing it for a little over two years,” said Linda. “When Rasha found out about this ride, we both felt like we should be a part of it and spread awareness about breast cancer.”
According to Aisha Al Mulla, director of FOCP, one of the main aims of the campaign is to increase awareness about breast cancer among men. “Although it is only a small percentage of men that gets affected by breast cancer, it is important to reach out to them and educate them” she said. “Since beginning the PCR in 2011, we have screened more than 75,000 people, of which 13,000 are men.”
A collaborative research study titled "Measuring Breast Cancer Awareness Level in Sharjah," conducted in partnership with NAMA Women Advancement was also released at the event. The findings reveal that 55 per cent of surveyed individuals possess sufficient understanding of self-examination for breast cancer. However, 71 per cent of respondents were less knowledgeable about the causative factors of cancer.
Reem BinKaram, Chairperson of PCR High Steering Committee noted in her remarks that it was important to keep the ride returning every year. “Some people ask us why we keep doing it every year,” she said. “It is because, if left unchecked this disease is capable of harming not just a woman or a man but entire families and communities. So, when we go out with horses, people are curious, and they come to see what it is. That is how we spread awareness about breast cancer”
On Sunday, the ride will take place in Dubai, starting from DIFC Gate Avenue at 8am, passing by Marasi Parking towards Skydive Dubai before reaching JBR at 12.30pm and ending day-two activities in City Walk at 3pm.
Pink Caravan Mammogram clinics will be available at La Mer from 4pm-10pm, while the Daily Minivan Stops will be at Dubai Frame and City Walk between 4pm and 10pm, with an hour break at 3pm.