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 😀

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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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SL Marathon 2013 – Update – Street Child Project 1

05/06/2013

Now back in the good old UK, I’m finally getting some time to update the blog posts on Sierra Leone… wishful thinking on my part about the available time I had leading up to and during the trip that I’d blog as I went along!

So following on from the last post… we arrived at our respective hotels, had time to check out our rooms and the facilities… and in my case scour the place for cockroaches… I have hated those things with a passion ever since an unfortunate incident in a NAAFI back in the Army days… *shudder*… luckily none were found… and then it was straight into the programme that Street Child had organised for us.

Because while we were there to run a marathon (or half), the whole reason for doing so is to raise funds for the Charity, and as we had arrived a few days before the run in order to acclimatise to the heat and humidity, this meant that we were able to visit projects over three different days and actually get to see, at ground level, precisely where all the fundraising money is going… to whom… and to see the impact that it has… or rather that should read, that WE are having… on other people’s lives.  Yes Sierra Leone may be a long long way away and after donations have (hopefully) poured in, most people may not think about the money they have given… but the effects of those donations are going to be felt for years to come… everything we do ripples out and affects another… and so on!

Anyway, the Programme!  First up lunch… always a good thing especially for someone who loves their food as much as me (it’s not greedy, it’s having a healthy appetite!) and a chance to start to get to know your fellow runners!  I’d luckily already been chatting at the airport to a lovely lady called Helen whose son works for Street Child and who, at that point, I had no idea how much she was going to change my run. More on that in a later post!

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Then the first Project.  This one was to a place called Lunsar where we visited a school and were treated to singing by the students.

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It was here that I first started to understand not just the immensity of how hard it is to effect change in a country which has nothing, which has such scars embedded deep within it’s psyche but to appreciate just how organic, holistic and sustaining an approach Street Child are adopting with their work.  It’s not just a case of take a child off the streets and put them into education… they build schools, they support and pay for teachers, they teach and support families not just financially (for a set period of time) but help them learn to save, to build new businesses… they help them to help themselves!

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It was then football time… it seems that it doesn’t matter where you go in the world… football reigns supreme! And Manchester… although to be fair, that seemed to be quite evenly divided between City and United! I do believe one of the lads decided to play without shoes on… with the result that his feet were pretty cut up, though that didn’t stop him from running the marathon a couple of days later!

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and in the meantime the rest of us chatted and had our photo taken with some students, and one lady had a bit of a dance with some of the young girls – I don’t generally dance in public in daylight, without the aid of alcohol… so didn’t actually have the nerve to join in, wish I had now!

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What an experience and what a start to our Sierra Leone visit… a very long day… flying through the night, no sleep… but oh so worth it… and that was just the first day!

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(My friend Ski with the children and their important message)

And while the trip may be over, my fundraising page is still open for anyone that would like to contribute – see the links below!!!

Links:

My fundraising page: MichellePayne13

Street Child

Sierra Leone Marathon 2013

© 2013 Michelle Payne


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