Dave Lundin making a difference in Namibia
“Thinking back on your own life, can you point to a critical influence or chance meeting that made a lasting impact? The catalyst may not have realized the effect they had upon the course of your life. Yet the seeds of hope and inspiration are very fertile, for they take only a drop of human kindness to grow.”
My friendship with Dave Lundin goes back 17 years when the big Texan moved in across the alley. Spotting my Harley he wandered over and we began a conversation that lasted to this day. It was Dave who was there for me in those early years when I gave up a radical lifestyle to pursue the outdoors. Over the intervening years Dave and I would experience many an adventure from the scorching plains of eastern Montana to the frozen valleys around Yellowstone. At the time I didn’t realize Dave had also had someone there for him at almost the exact point in his life. In the intervening years I would get to know Dave’s mentor and eventually come to call him friend as well. With a generation separating each of us we have our own place in time. Our adventures would lead us all the way to Africa and along the way we’d discover something about ourselves. I would be inspired to break new ground.
6 years have passed since my last visit to Africa. On that journey two courses of action were inspired. One took my friend Dave on a multi-year odyssey to bring medical relief to some of the remotest parts of Zambia. The other course took me to Guatemala where Red Oxx would bring some economic change to an impoverished corner of the world. Here where the need is greatest, the task can seem overwhelming to the point of hopelessness, yet I’ve found that hope can be delivered in small doses.
When it comes to getting stuff done Dave has a force of will that sometimes puts people off. Of course behind that sometimes gruff exterior is an award-winning humanitarian. The other half of our medical team was composed of Wade Stein, small business owner and volunteer EMT from the little burg of Lewistown, MT. Yours truly would be handling on site filming and basically getting in the way. Our in-country host and guide was Professional Hunter Hamma Diekmann of Omborrokko Safaris. Hamma would be taking time away from his business and family to volunteer as our host and show us the real Namibia.
Our mission in Namibia was one of prevention; diseases like malaria and trachoma are best treated before you get them. The Trachoma infection is spread by flies and unsanitary conditions but is easily treated with a single dose of Zithromax once a year.
At a cost of .87 cents per patient it’s hard to fathom that human beings are still going blind from this easily treatable disease. Malaria is best prevented with the use of mosquito nets or "Mossi Nets" which cost around $6 each. With these low costs is it that easy to treat? Well maybe not, someone has to go out there and make it happen and that’s where our crew comes in.
Once Trachoma and Malaria become active you’re behind the curve and playing catch-up. The Mossi Nets (Mosquito Nets) project was conceived by Dave as an easy way to get traction against malaria by distributing the nets directly in person.
The direct approach is something I understand well since the Red Oxx business model is the same. By eliminating the middle man you put more nets in the hands of the people with a direct cost savings. We’ve eliminated the middle man with the Internet here at the Oxx but Africa is a whole different proposition. While these nets are inexpensive by U.S. standards, they represent some serious money for the average person living in the bush.
Another parallel advantage is purchasing the nets in-country thereby making another positive impact by putting the locals to work adding value. Manufacturing is at the heart of any growing or stable economy, yet local manufacturers like Mossi Nets still seem to be left behind in favor of subsidized producers like China. As a believer in a global economy I seek to point out that we are in competition with a government entity in partnership with private industry. Maybe I’m stubborn about my commitment to making our gear here in the US. But to me and my crew here at Red Oxx we have our place in the world economy, hard fought and well deserved. The China bandwagon has its place as well; we need stuff to keep the guys at the landfill working!
Red Oxx does not have to be the largest bag company in the world; just the best at what we do. For those that value dependability and the heart and soul that are sewn into every Red Oxx product, there’s no other choice. Whether it’s our packing style or design of the products that just keep kicking long after the competition is left split and broken on some foreign shore. The global economy is a good thing for the world. In general one must be aware of where your dollars are going.
More specifically, if you want to create the biggest impact for humanity you must inform yourself to the options at hand. Determine where your dollars are going to make the most impact and act according to your own inner compass. While on the surface this may appear to cost a little more, it’s the multiplier "Butterfly" effect that can generate a far reaching and lasting impact. This philosophy has been the guiding hand of Red Oxx and our loyal customers the world over. As the Mossi net project was coming together I could envision a whole slew of economic factors that could contribute to making this a very impacting and positive project as well.
Getting organized for a trip is always an exciting time for me, over the years I have come to rely on a regimented set of carry on bags and personal items. While I rarely check a bag, it really depends on the mission at hand. Still one becomes familiar with a certain travel style and bag selection based on the particular episode of travel. My downstairs closet is well stocked with Red Oxx gear, and I was contemplating not taking my safari luggage and trying something new. The thought of going on safari without my PR 5 Safari Beano was causing me some angst but it was time to take some of my own change medicine. While carry on travel rules the day here at Red Oxx, we have many options available.
There’s often a fair amount of inquires on what is our best carry on piece and personal item. Word had gotten back to me that many a C-Ruck had been spotted in the Johannesburg airport. So in preparing for my safari I decided it was time for a change. My companions Dave and Wade would be running with our proven trio of the compiled safari carry-on luggage. These 3 bags work in concert together, facilitating efficient packing and transport of your essential equipment. The award winning PR 5 Safari Beanos has been a perennial favorite with our safari travelers as well as yours truly. Toiletries are managed with the Tri-fold shave kit that fits snugly into an end pocket. Dealing with the optics is simplified by the Gator, which easily swallows a Binocular Case. It’s the perfect day trip bag as well as qualifying as personal item carry on luggage.
The tradition of greeting fellow Red Oxx owners was started in some of the remotest corners of the world. Two bags passing on a float plane dock in Alaska. From there the rumors of chance encounters on airport trains and taxi stands have trickled in. This coming together around our brand has been a truly humbling experience. The unexpected side effect has been a vindication of the Red Oxx business model as well as driving force behind our continued success. I’ve experienced this in person and have come to appreciate the greetings and sometimes the quick exchange of travel conditions or an informed tip about what lies ahead. So remember to keep your eyes peeled for a fellow member of the herd, you never know who you might meet at the crossroads.
I was curious to see what it would be like to go the back pack route on safari. But first things first, selecting a color can pose a problem when you have a dozen to choose from. Colors can represent many things or just be something about the way you express yourself at a particular time in your life. When it comes to representing humanitarian relief then Mariner blue is the color of choice of the Safari Club International Blue Bag program.
In keeping with the humanitarian aspect of this trip I opted to run with the Mariner Blue C-Ruck Rucksack and matching Gator. My Bordeaux Tri-Fold complemented well and stowed smartly into the side pocket of the Ruck. A static bunk display will allow you to see all your gear on one plane. Then by process of elimination you can sort down till you have your gear at the minimum allowable yet be equipped to travel comfortably.
To organize your digital accessories a Lil Roy Packing Cube is just the ticket for the voltage converter, iPod and assorted camera cords, chargers. Once full, the Lil Roy makes a nice support pillow for your DSLR Camera inside the Gator bag. The pack sequence for a C-Ruck was pretty straightforward with the main compartment dealing with the bulk of the clothing and outer side pockets were perfect for the Tri-fold toiletry kit and a light Kavu canvas jacket on the opposite side. The top flap of the pack has a handy map pocket that will easily accommodate a paperback novel for passing time in transit. To deal with the TSA rules about liquids I simply put my 1 quart Ziploc plastic bag on top of my Tri Fold in the exterior pocket.
With my carry on bags taking care of all my in-country needs I was left with plenty of cargo allowance to pack some extra items for the village kids. With a two bag allowance for the flight to Africa I was going to get my money’s worth out of the airlines. It was time to pull out my 2 Expedition Duffel bags the