Sierra Leone Marathon raises thousands for Ebola Orphans - Women's Running

Sierra Leone Marathon raises thousands for Ebola orphans

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  December 23, 2014

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Street Child, the UK charity that aims to create educational opportunities for vulnerable children in West Africa, has raised £400,000 for children orphaned by Ebola through its marathon held in Sierra Leone.

The third event of its kind, this year’s Street Child marathon in Sierra Leone took place on May 25th – the same time the first cases of Ebola were reported in the remote district of Kalihun. As a result, the charity shifted its approach to address the tragedy of children left orphaned and destitute by the disease.

International, local and Olympic runners took to Sierra Leone’s brutally hot dirt tracks to battle out 26.2 miles for the charity. The event also included 5K, 10K and half marathon races. The run supported 8,000 children orphaned by Ebola, providing humanitarian support packages, counselling and resettling orphans with family members.

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As part of the event, runners were invited to take part in project visits to see the work that Street Child does and see how their money would help to support some of the most vulnerable children in Sierra Leone. Talking about the experience, Bryony Maclaren, a runner who took part in the half marathon event said:

‘I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of my life. I found the project visits extremely humbling, the local people repeatedly thanking us for our help and showing us how Street Child had made their lives easier in some way or another. It was these few days visiting projects and the encouragement of the locals that got me through the run.’

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Street Child’s programme director, Chloe Brett spoke passionately about the importance of the run not only to raising funds for the charity, but to providing the local people with a hugely positive community event for all to feel part of and get involved in.

‘It’s great for the local people’ she said. ‘Before we started the event there was no public event like it in Sierra Leone. Lots of local people run in the different events, including local athletes and there is so much support from the local people watching the race. The president of Sierra Leone even ran the 5K event in 2013. People run out of their houses to see the runners pass by and sing, dance and cheer, which the runners tell us is the most incredible feeling and really spurs them on in the stifling conditions.’

The marathon has become central to the charity’s funding, which Chloe explains has really pushed the charity into a new ‘upper level’. The funding of international runners has been able to change the lives of thousands of vulnerable Ebola orphans.

Bright GiWT

The story of Alpha (age 15) and Mohamed (age 13) is just one example. These young boys were living on their own at the village of Tomparay ferry with no adult supervision after their grandmother passed away on Monday, 8th December under the cruel hands of the Ebola virus. They lost both parents some three weeks ago in the old thatch house they had lived in the village. Their living situation is deplorable and they were in great need of emergency support. Thanks to the funding of the marathon, these boys were able to survive as the charity were able to provide emergency food, mattress and tarpaulin to help alleviate their plight. Meanwhile the team is assessing the nature of the long term sustainability support to provide to this family.

Inspiring story

Sadly, these stories are far from unique but with the help of more runners using their sport and stretching the limits of their endurance to support these amazing charities, our running community can work towards alleviating such cases of global plight.

To help the charity support children orphaned by Ebola this Christmas go to www.street-child.co.uk
 
Pass the Present to UK charity Street Child
Did you know that Christmas is publicly cancelled in Sierra Leone? Show your Christmas support by passing a present to Ebola Orphans who won’t be celebrating in quite the same way this year: passthepresents.org

 

 

 

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