Checking in

18/07/2014

So folks, just grabbing 5 minutes to pop in here… I’m conscious I haven’t updated properly since the last post connected to the Sierra Leone Marathon, but that’s because life has just kept getting busier and busier.  Do you every get to the point where you just feel totally overloaded?  Well although we talk about managing time and stress and pressures of life, it happens to Counsellors too! And I miss my writing so will endeavour to pop in more, albeit shorter posts.

For those that follow regularly, you will have noticed that I have stepped into the world of poems, which feels to flow very nicely at the moment.  They will be posted on Wednesdays, hopefully fortnightly… but I will see how that goes.

And how come the lack of time? Well I finished the college course I was on… and promptly started another! At the same time as the day job and the counselling job (both voluntary and private)… and then there’s the running!  Sometimes you never know what’s around the corner and this has most definitely proved to be true since visiting Sierra Leone in 2013.

For those that follow me on Twitter, you will no doubt know how some of this has seeped into my life… I’ve heard the phrase “taken over” muttered by friends but feel that may be just a little harsh 🙂 … but what we do in life will always ripple out.  For every action, there is a re-action.  And travelling to Sierra Leone to run in the marathon that the charity Street Child organises each year… well that opened new doors for me… very positive and happy doors… more on that to follow!

In the meantime, this weekend I am running a race to once again raise awareness for Street Child.  I will be running it with a few of the amazing friends I met out there, including the mad Geordie previously mentioned here… who still reminds me I went and left her (yes Helen, I’m talking about you again!)… this will probably happen again tomorrow… well I reckon if I’m never going to hear the last about it, I might as well make it worthwhile 😀

And the race, it’s a little adventure through a wonderful trail which takes a bit of time… 100 kilometres long… from a town to some stones that have been standing a while in a field… time to go lace some running shoes up…

Happy Friday everyone 🙂
Michelle

© 2014 Michelle Payne

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SL Marathon 2013 – Update – Street Child Project 3

06/07/2013

So a brief post about the third and last project… after all, we still had a race to run, had landed only a couple of days before and the majority of us were due to then return home in a couple more days… talk about packing a lot in!

This visit was firstly to the main Project Centre in Makeni:

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then disbursing into smaller groups and actually going out into the local community and visiting people who had their own businesses, thanks to help from Street Child. What is important to note here, is that Street Child supports, assists and teaches everyday people how to create a sustainable business, instigate small savings plans at the same time as reintegrating the street children back into those families… until a certain point when the Charity can then step back and those helped have reached a stage of self-sufficiency. Street Child are helping people help themselves and once that is done, they gone on and help others… such influence rippling out as I mentioned before… which will positively affect generations to come!

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Here, we’d gone out to visit two businesses: the one above featuring a mad marathoner (more on her in later posts – bad influence, bad! *grin*) was with a local lady who collected firewood and sold it on, who was helping support her family, and her sister’s family if I remember correctly, and keep the girls in education and while as shy as a lot of the other kids, the two little ladies above chatted to us about what their lives were like and how proud they were of their family for helping each other. An ethos a lot of people could do with adopting!

We then headed back to the Project Centre where some surf shorts were handed out: one of the marathoners was from New Zealand and had brought a load over, and I’ve never seen anything like it. The street kids are allowed into the Centre but obviously the Centre is not there to feed the town’s children, nor would it be able to. But they do what they can, with what they have. So when you have kids with nothing, absolutely nothing… and boxes of shorts are being handed out… there’s gonna be a melee… it was actually a heartbreaking sight… to see children so desperate for a pair of shorts that was likely too big for them… and how proud they were of having something new and clean to wear… it’s not the same as watching it on a tv, reading about it in a paper… you’re totally disassociated from the experience that way… it’s not “real”… here, to see it, in front of your own eyes, mere steps away… heartbreaking!

And then lunch… Street Child did a fantastic job of catering for us… the food was included in the package price… no-one got sick… well Reece did have some salad on the last day and was very queasy on the plane home, but then again that could have been his Freetown hotel… anyway… lunch! We lined up, got our food, found somewhere to sit and ate. Surrounded by kids that hadn’t probably eaten what we would call “proper” meals for… well, God only knows! And they came and sat by us, behind us… and still I didn’t twig!

Naive or what!

One of the guys didn’t finish his lunch so passed his plate back to the kids… who promptly grabbed it off him (with thank you’s I hasten to add)… and of course when I finished and had food left on my plate, I didn’t pass it back quickly enough… with the consequence I was mobbed and food went everywhere… mainly over me! Sure there’s some photos out there somewhere of me brushing rather a lot of food off me… and what a waste, because it meant it ended up scattered. So when you remember being told as a kid to eat all your food because some kid in the world would die for what you’re throwing away… it’s true. I’ve been there, I’ve seen it… and it is not pleasant to witness.

Next post up… the running part of the trip!

Links:

Street Child

Sierra Leone Marathon 2013

© 2013 Michelle Payne


SL Marathon 2013 – Update – Street Child Project 2

04/07/2013

Very belated updates now I’m afraid… my scheduling just hasn’t happened as I had hoped and although I’d expected things to calm down once I returned home, that hasn’t actually happened! Those who know me, won’t be surprised to hear that 🙂

So on the last post I talked about arriving in Sierra Leone and the first day and Project visit to Lunsar. Street Child also arranged for us to visit two other projects: I got to visit Bumbuna and then the Makeni Project Centre. The visit to Bumbuna was quite something… it’s probably the only time in my life I will ever get off a coach (well I wasn’t on my own, obviously) to be greeted by so many people that had been waiting patiently for us for hours.

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There had been some rain and we were out in the countryside here which meant slower going to get there.  These kids had been waiting for hours in the heat… just for us.  We had the opportunity to learn what work Street Child had been doing in this area, how it had helped the children and how this was impacting upon the future of the country. Education here is so valued that I think many kids in the UK (and most likely other western countries) could do with appreciating what they have more… these kids will learn in the open air, will walk long distances just to learn… you get the picture!  We were also treated to skits that the students had been practising and got to talk to some of the younger students before they were ushered back to their area (they kept running over when they could :)).

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As I said, fantastic to see just how many people’s lives are being affected positively by Street Child, and an amazing feeling to be involved so directly… to see, hear and talk to those concerned… yep, yours truly… proof I was there 😀

bumbuna

We also managed to make a little trip to see the local waterfall… although there were signs everywhere telling you NOT to go in the water… do bear in mind quite how hot it was… a fair few people did go for a little swim.  I can tell you that those rocks were very slippy and the orange colour from the iron ore from those rocks does not come out of anything that touches it (well, skin being the exception)… won’t be wearing those shorts again any time soon!

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It was then time to clamber back to the buses, get back to our hotels and then over to the Stadium, where a match was going on.  Yes, more football… this time with the amputees.  Now I’m not generally a fan of footie and don’t go out of my way to watch it, but these guys were fantastic… if you’d asked me before this visit whether anyone could play football with legs missing, I would have said no, highly doubt it. Time to get my uninformed beliefs kicked into touch 😉 … so fast, so unafraid at tackling… this was one game I enjoyed… unfortunately I didn’t take many photos and no goal-scoring ones, so this one will have to do!

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All in all, a fantastic day… and a lot achieved… after only just two days… and then it was time to head to the Clubhouse for dinner and then to get some sleep. Happy days!

Links:

Street Child

Sierra Leone Marathon 2013

© 2013 Michelle Payne


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