So if I hadn’t moved to the other side of the world with my gorgeous beau, I’d probably be cramming as much zzzz’s in as possible before the first major Sport Relief event of the weekend; followed by the numerous swim, run and cycle events happening up and down the UK and culminating with me passing out bleary-eyed on my sofa. I’m pretty bummed out I can’t be there, especially seeing as I was part of the campaign team until January just gone, so in a way it feels like I half finished a job. I’m no longer a Comic Relief employee but still a very dedicated supporter, hence today’s non HK related post.
Today I’ll not only be thinking of all my friends back at CRHQ, who are most probably running around like headless chickens in the battle to get everything ready, but also all the people I have been fortunate to meet along the way. No I don’t mean the celebs (although going away with a Spice Girl was quite surreal), I mean all the people on the ground working at local projects in the UK, Africa and South America and the people whose lives they really change, with the money kindly donated by the British public.
There are too many people for me to list, and going back through my memories of being in Africa can be particularly difficult. One of the hardest visits for me was meeting a young girl called Cynthia in Zambia. She lived with her mum and her younger sister in a small slum in downtown Lusaka. She wasn’t neglected, abused, physically affected by hunger or sick from malaria or any other illness. She was just a normal, bright, happy and beautiful ten year-old whose life had been completely dictated by her tragic circumstances. She lost her father at the age of eight and has had to look after her mother who is sick and living with HIV since his passing. These features of her young life meant that money was scarce, and partly due to costs and the burden of supporting her sick mother, she couldn’t go to school.
Cynthia had been to school in the past, so she knew what she was missing out on. She loved school and her dream was to get back there so she could become a teacher. Cynthia wanted to teach her younger sister and then earn enough money to look after her family. Just a simple ask that is so easily be taken for granted in the UK. Can you imagine the weight on this little girl’s shoulders? To take something like this on and still stay so upbeat? I don’t know if I would have been capable of that.
Education is so important, it is the key for any child’s future, their opportunity to break the cycle of poverty. I’ve seen this time and time again over the years, not just with Cynthia but also with Benjamin, Augustina, Daniel and many more. I know that it is key because I’ve also had the privilege to speak to the people who have had that chance to learn and seen the impact it has had on their lives.
On a personal level, it was very hard to leave Cynthia after spending so much time with her and the family. The one thing that made it easier was knowing that a Comic Relief supported project, ZOCS was going to help her get back to school. ZOCS is an amazing NGO working across Zambia to bring education to children whose families cannot afford to send them to government run schools.
I still think of Cynthia, because even though she has the support to go to school it doesn’t mean that her life has suddenly transformed over night; getting an education takes time. I often find myself wondering what Cynthia and the other people I’ve met are doing right now.
There is no real quick fix for any of these scenarios, despite my desperate wish that somehow we could wave a magic wand to change this. But, to take a well used line/theme from our campaigns, there is you, there is me and there is all of us. Together we can make things happen and help the other Cynthias of this world.
So please take some time to watch Sport Relief tonight, enjoy the sketches (David Beckham in Peckham), challenges (Clash of the Titans) and general mayhem that the BBC show provides. And most of all don’t forget to make that donation if you can, no matter how small. Even though I can’t access the show out here I will be donating and wearing my Sport Relief T-shirt in support.
You can find out more about Sport Relief and ZOCS below. Sorry if this post has been a bit heavy, but it is important.