Lucy On The Run With
Lucy Fenner, Running Events Manager at Oxfam GB, recently visited the charity's project work in Zimbabwe and shares her experience of there and the challenges of going for a run in 40° heat...
"When I found out that I was going to Zimbabwe, I was extremely excited but equally nervous, mainly because I wanted to make sure that I could keep up my running while I was out there! On arriving in the country, it soon became apparent that this beautiful landscape was somewhere I definitely needed to bank a few runs. It was pretty hot but I managed to run in various parts of the country including the north which was 40° by 8am. We were also at high altitude and I can safely say I've never found running so hard.
“Oxfam's work in Zimbabwe was absolutely inspirational. I was obviously pro-Oxfam before my visit, but after seeing how the money supporters and runners raise translates into changing real people's lives, I've become a super Oxfam geek. I think everyone knows that Oxfam does great work around the world, but I'd like to give you a report on just one of the many projects I saw while I was out there.
“This is Paul (right). He's an Oxfam beneficiary. Before Oxfam worked in his community, Paul and his family were undernourished and at risk of disease and even death from a severe lack of food and clean water. 18 months ago Oxfam started a project in the community, training women (who traditionally do the farming) in new agricultural techniques and providing the seeds and tools to grow a variety of crops.
“Groups of women like Teresa formed large community gardens usually consisting of around 30 women. They worked together to farm their plots of land. Once the crops were growing, Mckenzie (an inspiring Oxfam programme worker) trained the groups in how to find gaps in local markets, transporting goods to market and making a profit from surplus crops. So, 18 months on (when we visited) the women in these groups couldn't have been happier!
“Teresa said herself that Oxfam, 'changed my life. I am so happy now. My family are healthy'.
“The ladies spoke of being able to send their children to school for the first time. They can buy life-saving medicines and finally eat a varied diet. This and the well that Oxfam built (which Paul's drinking from) has improved the whole community's health. They even showed us the doctors' records to prove less people are getting ill now!
“This is just one example of the many different types of projects that Oxfam works on. All of the projects we saw were as outstanding as this and I can't express enough how well Oxfam uses the money that's raised to impact people's lives in such a positive way. Although Oxfam staff work with the community in such challenging environments they are very effective and positive.
“I can finally connect the dots from the money that people like us raise in the UK to the countries that we work in (over 70 worldwide) and straight to the people that really need it. And it really does change their lives for the better."
If you want to support Oxfam visit their website or call 0300 200 1244 for more information.