NEWS

MARATHON CHALLENGE ACROSS AFRICA2014-08-04

Can you imagine running 4,328km coast-to-coast across Africa for charity? That's what one volunteer fundraiser is preparing to do for The SEED Project: a marathon-a-day for four months!

The Head Over Heels 2014 team
The Head Over Heels 2014 team: Aysha, Emma and Mike

In 2011 Emma Timmis was the first woman ever to run from Durban to Cape Town along a 2,400km route called the Freedom Trail. That took her 57 days of running. Now she is working with Aysha Madha, a former trustee of The SEED Project, to raise funds for small charities that show real respect for the people they work with, the countries they work in and the people who work for them.

Their support vehicle is being shipped this week and is due to arrive in Walvis Bay, Namibia on 23rd August. Next Wednesday, August 15th, Aysha and another of Emma's support team fly to Namibia. Emma will then fly out, together with the final member of the team, on 25th, with a view to start running around August 30th. If all goes well, they should reach the coast of Mozambique in time for Christmas.

Since it was founded in 2005, The SEED Project has had a real impact on families trapped by poverty in Zimbabwe. For instance, Bassi is a 62-year-old widow who takes care of her two grandchildren, aged 7 and 12. Their parents were victims of HIV/AIDS. Bassi worked as a maid, earning the equivalent of just £1 per day, but this was not enough to look after herself and her grandchildren.

Two years ago SEED trained Bassi in baking and sewing skills, and in how to start her own business. She now bakes for her employer, who has doubled her previous salary. She also bakes for the local school and has a contract to sew and provide school uniforms. This earns her enough each month that she now employs two other women to help with her sewing business. She is also able to fend properly for her grandchildren and send them to better schools.

By working alongside disadvantaged communities, SEED's indigenous Community Development Workers are able to help individuals to identify and train for skills that enable them to escape poverty and dependence. Participants on SEED's courses also benefit from access to counselling, instruction on employment rights and legislation, training on how to set up a business, and microfinance loans to help them to establish a business.

The work of small charities is often overshadowed by that of larger, more widely advertised organisations, but a report published earlier this year concluded that Small NGOs provide a more direct route to helping people in the global south and to understanding changing needs on the ground. (The Small Majority)

As small charities such as The SEED Project have shown, it is possible to make a lasting difference in the world by working alongside people and empowering them to meet their own needs one individual, one family, and one community at a time.

To find out more about Emma's run or to make a donation, please visit headoverheels2014.com or her sponsorship page.

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