Sunday, March 11, 2007

I touched a child's heart.

I touched a child's heart.
Originally uploaded by make_change.
I ran my first 10 km race during The Mater Heart Run on Saturday, March 10, 2007. This run was organized to fundraise for the children’s unit for the Mater Hospital in Nairobi. After picking up the troops (co-worker, her sister and her sister’s kids), we drove over the Nyayo Stadium, where the race would kick off. In Nairobi, I’m used to watching these kites (type of predator bird) circle the sky but here, the trees were lined with the marabu storks I first saw at the Nairobi National Park.

We entered the stadium and found a sea of green t-shirts. Of course, I pulled the usual t-shirt ripping tradition and re-designed a once warm oversized shirt to a sleeveless jersey. We were off at the sound of a marching band that squeezed and bottle-necked at the exit of the stadium and ran in the middle of Uhuru highway and around Nairobi. Running is actually a really great way to see the outskirts of the city but I’d probably not do it if it wasn’t for this race. The sea of green started to break up a bit as people started to run-walk but the kids I’d pass (or they’d pass me) were full energy! I finished with the first 2000 people (because the first 2000 get a certificate!) and then proceeded to see the rest of the festivities.

After run events saw loads of high school and elementary school students crowd near the stage to watch their school mates have dance-offs and watch performances by local Kenyan artists. There were also booths surrounding the stadium. One which caught my eye was the Alive and Kicking Kenya – NGO supporting unemployed youth to make hand-stitched soccer and volleyballs and also promote messages of malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention. Very innovative ideas so I bought one of their leather soccer balls for 1000 Kenyan shillings (about $12 CAD).

After the race, I relaxed at home before heading to the nearby mall, Yaya Centre. I enjoyed a healthy roast-beef and strawberry juice at some health fruit juice shop and then found a cute little bookshop called Legacy Books. The shop sells books and reports on community development and is attached to a small coffee shop. Brilliant idea!

Friends are popping over to Africa from the sounds of a few emails. One for child care in Ghana and another assisting with some program promoting Africa bike designs for Kona… sponsor an African bike! Such a good idea because most people cannot afford cars and the bicycle is the best and healthy method of transport considering the road conditions and inaccessibility to some of the villages!

I have just met these Japanese dudes who do a Japanese tour to slum programmes all over Kenya as well as throw in a bit of the tourism bit. One guy buys goods from Kibera and Thika slum workshops (hand crafted pen holders, wire /bead animals, etc) and sells them with their group in Japan.

So many wonderful small ideas assisting with development for the communities. One dollar goes a long way for many of these places so if interested, save your pennies and support a LOCAL African community group!

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