The Desert Warrior: Doris Matlok

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Doris Matlok walking in the Sahara desert in Egypt. Photo – Scott Manthey

Covering 250 km of scorching desert heat in the Egyptian desert over just seven days, Hermoine Macura meets one humanitarian entrepreneur and discovers her unique challenge – all for a good cause.

UAE-based Australian lawyer Doris Matlok – has successfully completed the Racing The Planet’s 2012 Sahara Race.

The gruelling seven-day run through the searing heat of the Sahara Desert was part of a challenge to raise funds for the Black Dog institute, an educational, research, clinical and community-oriented facility offering specialist expertise in mood disorders – including depression and bipolar disorder.

The challenge was also to help raise awareness and the need for a mental health organisation for UAE residents who suffer from depression and bipolar disorders.

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Doris Matlok walking in the Sahara desert in Egypt. Photo – Scott Manthey

According to the World Health Organisation, at least 121 million people worldwide have depression, a common mental disorder characterised by depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.

Here in the UAE, there is still a lot that needs to be done. According to a survey of 90 practitioners in Abu Dhabi by the Middle East Journal of Family Medicine in 2006, the vast majority lack adequate knowledge about anxiety and depression.

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Doris Matlok nearing the finish line in Egypt’s Sahara desert. Photo – Scott Manthey

In addition to that, over 80% felt competent in diagnosing anxiety and depression, but they said they were more comfortable treating physical illness. Nearly three-quarters said they did not have enough time to explore psychological issues during the consultation, and only half answered a series of questions on depression correctly.

The need to raise awareness and support within the UAE was the main driving force behind Doris’ campaign and challenge. The support of her friends in Dubai and the knowledge that she was participating to raise awareness of mental illness issues in Australia and here in the UAE kept her going throughout the event.

doris matlok race
Doris Matlok celebrating after crossing the finish line. Photo – Doris Matlok

Participants in the seven-day Sahara Race, which began on 28 October, crossed the desert in temperatures that hit highs of 50°C during the day and minus 20°C at night.

An inspiringly special woman, Ms. Matlok 43, is an athlete and humanitarian entrepreneur at heart. Prior to this desert challenge, she had completed two “Ironman’s’ – a 3.86km swim followed by a 180km bike ride and a marathon run. She has also spent the last few weeks as a special guest on the INSPIRE TALKS program, which aims to encourage young women across the UAE.

Hermoine Macura is the first Australian female English speaking TV News Anchor in the Middle East, and also one of the area’s most recognized faces. Prior to establishing Straight Street Media in 2012, Hermoine was one of the main Anchor’s on Dubai One TV’s Emirates News. Her first book, FACES OF THE MIDDLE EAST was published in 2010.

Faces of the Middle East by Hermoine Macura

FACES OF THE MIDDLE EAST is a book that aims to introduce the various ethnic and social groups who reside throughout the Middle East, proof that this part of the world is not, as many in the West mistakenly believe, a monolithic culture.

Neither a definitive story nor a political statement, FACES OF THE MIDDLE EAST, is the culmination of more then seven years of Photojournalism that documents the existence and rich diversity present in the region.

Order a copy online at www.straightstreetmedia.ae

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