After being persuaded by two friends, Oetrange resident Max Wax is on his way to Benin to help sick children.

Max Wax's motto is solitaire et solidaire ("solitary and solidarity"). The sixty-year-old from Oetrange is used to working alone during his trips across Africa. This time, he was joined by Ludovic and Carlos as he got on his motorbike to reach Benin, 10,000 km from Luxembourg.

"My grandfather rode a motorbike in the 1940s and my father took part in the Bol d'Or and the Isle of Man race. So, I caught a case of the motoring bug and my children have already followed in my footsteps."

The project is called 'A Heart for Africa' and aims at helping children with heart conditions. The goal is to bring them to France for surgery, which will cost €12,000 per child.

Wax is a French family man who has lived in Luxembourg for 30 years. He is a sales manager at Roche Bobois and continues to work for the French company, but on a freelance basis. This allows him to pursue his other passion, humanitarian work. However, Wax does not work "for the big associations, where 80% of the funds raised go to operating costs."

Wax claims that every euro he raises is reinvested. "It took me a little while to make myself known, but I eventually gained enough trust in order to raise funds and convince partners," he explains.

So much so that Wax has had many experiences. First in Asia, where he went to the Pnhom Penh rubbish dump and to the Saint Paul de Huê orphanage in Vietnam, and then in Africa, where he devoted himself wholeheartedly to the Ayadi Alkhayr association in Gourrama, Morocco.

"I'll drop off some school supplies for them on the way. With €1, I make three [people] happy with three notebooks and a pen," Wax says. This will only be the first stage of a two-month journey. Because his final destination is Benin.


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Her name is Vega

This journey is not going to be easy. That's why Ludovic and Carlos enlisted the help of Wax, who is beginning to understand the African continent and its characteristics. He explains that "there are several pitfalls. The first is to make your way through the potentially hazardous terrain. I'm thinking of the Fouta-Djalon mountain range in Guinea, or simply crossing the Sahara, where the harmattan can be really strong. Sand and dust can get everywhere. Then you have to pray that there are no mechanical problems."

Geopolitics are another matter. The latest news of the land border closure between Guinea and the Ivory Coast was not the best. Mali is still an option, but the end of Operation Barkhane has not exactly improved security in the country. This means that the trio may have to improvise.

Wax, who is accustomed to maps and compasses, is forced to keep up with the times and has purchased a GPS, but the increasingly high-tech motorcycles irritate him.

"I've also changed brands. I now ride a Yamaha Tenere 700. I take care of it as if it were my mistress. I talk to her, and I have named her Vega. Like the fifth brightest star in the solar system. The one that is supposed to replace the North Star to help travellers find their way," Wax explains.


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50 kg of equipment

From a logistical point of view, a journey like this leaves no room for improvisation. The trio is carrying approximately 50 kg of equipment. In no particular order, there is a tent, a sleeping bag, body linen, a miniature stove, freeze-dried food, two spare tyres, "because it's difficult to get them in Africa," two inner tubes in case of a puncture, and a can of petrol capable of ensuring a range of some 200 kilometres.

"They say you always need water, but without petrol, you're stuck," says Wax, who knows that it's always possible to get it on the sly - even if it's sometimes less pure… This is also Africa. While the adventurer must be able to negotiate, he also adheres to one unbreakable rule: never bribe. Even if it means spending more time at the border.

Eventually, it will be time to think about the return journey. Max Wax is so in tune with his bike that he will ride it home, while his companions will take their bikes to a ferry and fly back. But that's in a month's time.