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This Young Malaysian Will Walk 251KM Through The Blazing Sahara Desert For A Good Cause

The temperature in Sahara can go up to 50°C.

Cover image via The Star

Everyday, about 10 Malaysians are diagnosed HIV positive and 31% of those reported cases are mostly locals in their twenties

Image via The Star

Here's a little insight on how serious HIV is in Malaysia, with a set of facts by the PT Foundation:

- The majority people living with HIV in Malaysia are men, but the ratio is decreasing.

- 70% of new HIV infections in 2013 were Malay.

- day almost 10 Malaysians are diagnosed HIV positive

- 31% of newly reported cases in Malaysia are in their twenties

- AIDS has caused the deaths of more than 13,000 Malaysians

ptfmalaysia.org

While there are many foundations and volunteers eager to help HIV positive individuals, not many would embark on this journey this young Malaysian man is about to.

26-year-old Jeff Lau Jun Tean, is set to walk for about 251km in the blazing Saharan desert.

Jeff Lau Jun Tean

Image via The Star

That’s like walking from KL to Kuantan in the blistering heat of the desert.

Jeff has taken up this challenge to raise funds for all those that are HIV positive through the Malaysian Aids Foundation (MAF).

2012 World Aids Day, Manila, Philippines

Image via Bullit Marquez/AP

His inspiration came in the form of Ralph Dixon, the trustee of the Malaysian Aids Foundation (MAF), who brought to his attention the sad state of local youths that are HIV positive

Ralph Dixon at the finish line of the 29th Edition of Marathon des Sables in 2014

Image via Ralph Marathon Des Sables

According to a report by English daily, The Star, Jeff first met Ralph in a gym, about two years ago.

"It touched me and I felt a deep desire to contribute towards helping those who were infected with HIV as well as help the MAF carry out its outreach and educational programmes," explained Jeff, as reported by The Star.

The Malaysian Aids Foundation (MAF) was started in 1993 to educate the public on issues surrounding HIV and AIDS and to eventually prevent the spread of it with the power of education and awareness. The foundation also provides aid and counselling to individuals that are HIV positive and AIDS patients.

What really sets the Marathon des Sables (MdS) race apart from the run-of-the-mill charity runs?

Image via Time Outdoors

Ranked as the toughest footrace on Earth by the Discovery Channel, MdS involves a multi-stage adventure through the hottest and driest climate of the Sahara desert.

Participants are required to carry all their necessities including food must be carried on their back and the only two things that will be provided are water and tent to sleep at night.

Funds are raised for a variety of causes to help families and individuals from across the world through the MdS foundation, Solidarit.

While most of us are suffering from the temporary heatwaves here, the temperature in the Sahara desert is constantly over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38°C ).

Imagine running through the dry, sandy plains in all that heat - that is exactly what Jeff will be doing for six days.

Ralph Dixon and Jeff Lau representing Malaysia at the 29th Edition of Marathon des Sables in 2014

Image via Malaysian Aids Foundation

The interesting thing is that this is the second time Jeff will be participating in the MdS race. In 2014, he participated with Dixon.

"I managed to raise RM80,000 in 2014 and hope to raise RM160,000 this year,” said Jeff, revealing that he is feeling a little nervous as Dixon won't be joining him this time around, as reported by The Star.

"My 2014 experience in the marathon was tough and literally a nightmare. We had to move under a 50°C heat for six straight days and complete 40km every day until the fourth day when we had to cover 80km in one go," added Jeff.

However, understanding the need for MAF to have the much needed support to carry on with its work, Jeff is bracing himself to face the challenge again despite describing it as "a frightening experience".

thestar.com.my

What's really admirable is that while most Malaysians have resorted to staying indoors due to the heat, Jeff has been preparing for the race by running for 35km EVERY DAY from the Bukit Aman Police Station to the Taman Tun Dr Ismail park

His elderly father, 58-year-old businessman, Lau Pak Lam apparently companies him daily for the runs, reported The Star.

The challenging and grueling race will be held from 8th till the 18th of April and Jeff will be flying over to Morocco on the 5th and return on the 21st

Jeff Lau And Ralph Dixon

Image via Jeff Lau

MAF media communications manager Zaki Arzmi said the funds raised by Lau would go towards the various activities and programmes to help vulnerable groups infected or affected by HIV.

Those who want to support Lau’s effort in raising funds for MAF can do so at online crowdfunding site Simply Giving or contact 03-40474257 or 012-9594596 or [email protected]

thestar.com.my

All the best Jeff! We're rooting for you!

Image via Giphy

Meanwhile, read about this 25-year-old Malaysian cancer survivor who climbed Mount Kinabalu late last year:

Young Malaysians never fail to impress, with their admirable determination to make the country proud and the world a better place: