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

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SL Marathon 2013 – Update – We’re here!

27/05/2013

The first post coming to you from Sierra Leone! Yes, I actually made it out here… not that I didn’t expect to… it’s just it suddenly seemed to have come round really quick!

First up, a shout out and much gratitude to Niron Noel of activatepluspt… he’s been the one who has been there every week for the past 3 months, not just helping me get fitter and build my core strength to cope with the endurance running, but also kept me encouraged me when my mental and emotional states have been battered… I cannot recommend him enough, so look him (or his colleagues) up of you’re in London and need some personal training/coaching! I will be doing a separate blog post on their company at a later date.

So yes, we’re finally here and the run a reality! The British Airways flight was good from London, only 7 hours to Freetown and ours was probably over half full with runners alone, a very friendly bunch indeed. Getting from Freetown to Makeni did take a few hours… and while there is the sweet Salone time you quickly get used to, this was also due to distance and the state of the roads… not all of the main road there has been built! Remember, this isn’t just the poorest country in the world… but its’ civil war ended in 2002… and is still recovering from… the infrastructure building is slow… but it is coming…

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It was hot and humid. Just reading and knowing that doesn’t quite prepare you for the blanket of heat and sweat that envelops you as soon as you get off the plane… Thursday night was 82 degrees to sleep in (no air con here, but fans do cool the room for a few minutes if there’s electricity and you’re not charging your phone or camera). The humidity… it was high, probably higher Friday due to a fantastic thunderstorm and downpour we had very late last night. As for running in it, at the time of drafting this, I didn’t have a clue.

… best get this published as it’s been sitting in the draft box while I’ve been trying to get enough battery power to continue drafting!

More to come…


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