3 continents, 22 cities, 484 pushups

I’m doing 22 push ups in 22 cities, each, on three continents.
This, to raise awareness of the lack of mental health services in low-income countries. One NGO that tries to fix that gap is BasicNeeds, which also tries to improve the lives of people living with epilepsy.

BasicNeeds has been around since 2000 and, according to their Wikipedia page, which they seem to mostly edit themselves, have helped over 650.000 people, since. They work in east Africa and South and South East Asia.

Resource-poor countries lack many things, and though it’s debatable to what extent NGOs should provide services that really should be taken care of by the state, mental health services are, even in well developed countries, often neglected, in part because they can carry stigma.

This ain’t no ice bucket challenge, but the idea is similar. I was nominated to take up this challenge by Sylvain, a friend from Uganda now living in Kenya.
The actual deal is to do 22 pushups a day on 22 consecutive days, but I figured I’d give it a little spin, doing 22 pushups in 22 cities, but not on 22 consecutive days. I don’t travel that much. Though, I expect to be finished within two months.

I’m not certain where the challenge originated, but it seems that it has its roots in a 22 pushups for 22 days challenge that raises awareness for the 22 army veterans that kill themselves each day as a result of PTSD. This only relates to *American* veterans and the statistic was recently adjusted to 20 per day.
Here’s the organisation that started the pushup craze.

Apparently, at some point, someone gave this a spin, moving away from Americans with PTSD to mental health services in developing countries.

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Everyday, I’m supposed to nominate someone to take up the challenge, which is kind of nuts, as with 22 challenges, and everyone taking up the challenge, after 7 rounds, about as many people as that live on this planet will have been challenged.

All videos are also available as a YouTube library.

1. 16 October, Carapicuiba (Brazil), wide-grip pushups

My first set of pushups are in the Sao Paulo’s satellite town of Carapicuiba. Founded in 1580, and now sizeable, with about 400000 inhabitants, it’s mostly a working class city, though, in true Brazilian style, there’s also a part that’s distinctively upper middle class. It’s the town where we live.

Today, I did wide-grip pushups, which are supposed to target your chest more.

2. 25 October, São Paulo (Brazil), narrow-grip pushups

At the busiest airport in Latin America, serving some 40 million passengers yearly, I did some narrow-grip pushups, good for the triceps.

3. 27 October, Hamburg (Germany), regular pushups

Home of the famous Reeperbahn, Hamburg’s red light district, and the St. Pauli soccer team, I managed to do a few regular pushups.

4. 1 November, Delft (Netherlands), regular pushups with right leg raised

Putting the core to work in the home of Vermeer, after I forgot to do a set of pushups in the German town of Quickborn.

5. 2 November, Brussels (Belgium), regular pushups with left leg raised

On a short stopover in Brussels, on my way to London, I take a minute at Brussels South train station to do a set of pushups.

6. 5 November, Paris (France), raised legs pushups

Under the watchful eye of Manu Negra’s platinum “Puta’s fever”, I do some raised legs pushups. Particularly good for the shoulders, but serving pretty much the whole upper body.

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7. 11 November, London (UK), clap pushups

Another lapse, forgetting to do a set in the lovely seaside Brighton & Hove, I did a tough set of clap pushups in London.

8. 19 November, Bursa (Turkey), T-pushups

Bursa is home to one of Turkey’s world heritage sites, commemorating the origins of the Ottoman empire as an early capital.

9. 21 November, Istanbul (Turkey), raised legs pushups

In the most touristy part of Istanbul, Sultanahmet, I did raised legs pushups for the second time, not realising I had also done these back in Paris.

10. 25 November, Tokmok (Kyrgyzstan), regular pushups

Tokmok is an uninspiring market town, even though the local police felt inspired and apprehended me on suspicion of behind a Syrian terrorist. Yet, in the suburb of Burana, or rather a minute cluster of houses in the same valley, you can find the Burana tower. Once a minaret and built in the 11th century, it’s the last remnant of the Sogdian city of Balasagun.

11. 28 November, Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), regular pushups
At my guesthouse in Bishkek, the temperature has risen somewhat, making it not bitter cold, but just freezing cold.

12. 29 November, Turkestan (Kazakhstan), regular pushups

Turkestan is home to the most important historical architecture in Kazakhstan, the mausoleum of Khawaja Ahmed Yasawi, a 12th century Sufi poet. The mausoleum was constructed by order of Tamarlane a good two hundred years later, who died before the construction was finished, leaving the front of the building without inlaid tile work.

13. 3 December, Almaty (Kazakhstan), spider man pushups

Almaty means ‘full of apples’ as, supposedly, this was the region where apples were first cultivated by man.

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14. 5 December, Karaganda (Kazakhstan), regular pushups

Karaganda was infamous for Stalin moving hundreds of thousands Soviets to the nearby labour camps. This included many Volga Germans, Stalin being afraid they might side with Hitler when he moved east in the 1940s.

15. 6 December, Dolinka (Kazakhstan), regular pushups

Dolinka was the administrative center of KarLag, the local Gulag which was active for about 28 years under Stalin, finally disbanded in 1959. At its height, some 60000 forced labourers were interned here at the same time.

16. 8 December, Astana (Kazakhstan), regular pushups

I’m doing my routine inside Bayterek, the monument that’s almost synonymous with the city of Astana. Nearly 100 meters tall, the large sphere at the top holds a handprint, in bronze, of the first president of the nation. You can visit the sphere, lay your hand in the handprint, and make a wish.

17. 11 December, Kiev (Ukraine), regular pushups

On a short stopover in Kiev, I quickly put in a set of pushups.

18. 13 December, Amsterdam (Netherlands), regular pushups

Waiting for my flight, at night, I put in a quick set of pushups.

19. 16 December, Cotia (Brazil), regular pushups

Like Carapicuiba, Cotia is a satellite town to Sao Paulo. Sadly, though it’s quite green, there are very few public spaces to enjoy.

20. 3 January, Osasco (Brazil), regular pushups

Doing pushups in another satellite town close to Sao Paulo.

21. 21 January, Queluz (Brazil), regular pushups

During a stopover between Sao Paulo and Rio, I do a bunch of nightly pushups.

22. 22 January, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), regular pushups

A fitting end to this long saga, I finish with a set of pushups on one of Rio de Janeiro’s beaches, Leme, right next to Copacobana.