Standing shoulder to shoulder

When I stood in front of group after group of This Is EPIC, village savings and loans members in January with Philip in the depths of rural Uganda I promised to stand shoulder to shoulder with them to do what I/we can provide the tools/education so they are empowered to improve their lives. At least it’s what I think I said – you could never be too sure with Joseph our director in Uganda who was translating not sure he ever actually said what we said!

 

Those words have kept me honest and been my rocket fuel when training got tough (which has been a lot) or listening to those people who thought this fundraising attempt was too hard and ambitious. I am accountable for those simple words which means I have to do everything in my power using the few skills I possess to raise money to keep the groups going and start up new ones.

 

This isn’t a challenge or holiday for me, which “happens” to raise money and awareness for charity. It all starts with the charity as that is the primary purpose for doing this. This has been such a hard journey to just get to the start line, but surely it can’t be harder than the daily struggle the people I met in Uganda face just to get through each day and survive.

 

I will remember the joy in their hearts and their songs of hope for improving their children’s lives. The children’s faces as they looked at us as someone with the power to change their lives.

 

How could I give up when so much hangs in the balance?

 

I need to remember these moments and the purpose because there will be times when I feel like it’s not worth it and I have taken on too much. But if Philip and I and everyone else taking on their own challenges in The FCG EPIC Week are successful it will be so worth it for the positive impact it will have.

 

Hopefully this will be our butterfly moment, which will cause a hurricane of positivity.

 

Watch this clip to see the joy from the people we met when they saved for the first time after joining a This Is EPIC savings and loans group

 

 

 

Topowa (#NeverGiveUp)

It’s not about running or records

I thought I’d write this post following a few conversations in recent weeks about how I got into running and also about the Charity that Louise and I run, This Is EPIC.

People appear surprised when I say that I have only got into running as a result of deciding to run 7 Marathons in 7 Days in 2014. Prior to that I had run two half-marathons and my sports of choice were cricket and football, yes, very different from ultra-running!

It all started in December 2013 when I decided to take on running 7 Marathons in 7 Days to raise money for This Is EPIC, the charity that my wife and I started in October 2013. In February 2014 I met Warren, he was interviewing me for a StartUp Guernsey video, I told him about the challenge and it then snowballed into a big event that ended up raising over £22,000 for This Is EPIC and The HUB.

What we experienced with our 7 Marathons in 7 Days, the support from the community, the belief in the charities that we were supporting, and the personal battles that we won were a huge learning curve for both Warren and I.

In three weeks time we are taking on an even bigger challenge. We’ll be running on treadmills for 48 hours, attempting to break the World Record for the furthest distance run in 48 hours. The world record currently sits at 251.79 miles, just under 10 marathons in a weekend. A challenge on a similar scale is the fundraising target we have set ourselves, this year we are aiming for £100,000. This is a big number, but we are so focused on hitting it because we know first hand the good the charities can achieve with the funds.

Whilst the event is indeed a world record challenge, and yes, it is another running challenge, for us it is not about running and it is not about records. We both enjoy running and it would be awesome to break the world record, but the energy for us comes from the positive impact we can have through the money we raise from the event.

Margret Nantumbwe (Pictured at the start of this post) is just one of the sources of energy that keeps us putting one foot in front of the other, even when our bodies are telling us to give up. I read about Margret’s story this week as we received a project update from the This Is EPIC village savings and loans projects in Uganda.

Margret  Nantumbwe lives in a small village called Nkokko, which is in the Kirumba Sub County, Rakai district of Uganda. Margret is a mother to four children, three girls aged four, seven and eleven and one boy aged two.

Margret joined the This Is EPIC Tweyambe Village Savings and Loans (VSL) Group in early 2015.

Before joining This Is EPIC Tweyambe VSL group Margret could not afford school fees for her three daughters as she did not have a stable source of income. Through a “Farmer Field School” set-up by This Is EPIC aimed at helping communities increase agriculture production and productivity, Margret learnt knowledge and skills of production using organic fertilisers (compost and farm yard manure) plus mulching.

With the money that she had saved through the This Is EPIC VSL group Margret trialled her new knowledge on 0.5 acre of land she purchased and started to produce onions. Margret made enough profit from this harvest that she then hired 2 acres of land and now continues to harvest onions as well as egg plants, which she sells to the local community.

This is what Margret has to say about the impact on her life from joining a This Is EPIC VSL group.

“My life has improved tremendously Thanks to This Is EPIC; I can now afford to pay the school fee of my children. They therefore do not miss any classes because of tuition fees like was the case before. Right now I have plans of extending my garden size because I am sure to receive my sweat’s worth from my produce. There are not enough words in the world to express my gratitude to EPIC for the opportunity. Things would have remained the same for a long time had it not been their intervention. Thank you so much.”

This is why we run.

This is why we push our bodies and minds to the limit.

This is why keep putting one foot in front of the other.

If you want to help us continue to give thousands of others in Margret’s situation a help-up and the opportunity to turn their life around and provide a future filled with hope for their children then please support our EPIC48 World Record Challenge. Any donation makes a huge difference.

Thank you.

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