22 May 2022

100km in 10 days for local Friends of Africa members

Brooke Scullion is among those taking on the challenge.

100km in 10 days for local Friends of Africa members

Ciaran along with other members of the Ghana team.

County Derry members are among those embarking on an ambitious project to highlight and support Covid-19 relief programmes in poor areas of Africa.

Friends of Africa (FOA) members are running 10km each day to accumulate a total of 100km, with Bellaghy’s Voice UK semi-finalist Brooke Scullion joining those pounding the tarmac.

The initiative came about after the organisation were forced to shelve international work planned for the summer months in the wake of the coronavirus’ spread.

Ciaran McShane said Friends of Africa had gone the extra mile this year and were looking forward to the summer.

The Kilrea man told the County Derry Post: “This year for the first time we had taken the decision to invest in our membership.

“All our volunteers have been trained in accredited youth work training, which is the focus of our work in Africa.

“When we, like everyone else, were faced with the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic we decided to to postpone all our international work planned for June, July & August of this year.

“It wasn’t an easy decision as months of training, fundraising and planning had been done but integrity, solidarity and the common good are values which are central to our mission.”

With their efforts frustrated, the organisation looked to find a way to continue their fundraising efforts and support their partners and the communities in which they work.

“Shauna O’Neill, who has worked with Friends of Africa in South Africa, came up with the idea to run 10k a day for 10 days 0 – 100k to raise funds for our appeal,” said Ciaran.

“Our members took up the challenge without much convincing and we have 75 people signed up to the challenge. It started on Saturday and has raised over £6,500 to date. 

“We are also delighted to have our 10x10 challenge being taken up by FOA members living in Thailand, Australia & New Zealand as well as by our partners in Ghana and South Africa.

“This expression of solidarity is keeping us all going and reminds us that no matter how difficult it is for us here, living in poverty makes this much virus more deadly.”

While lockdown is an inconvenience to many here, it is almost impossible in the conditions that are common in many areas where Friends of Africa work.

“Once we began to understand how the virus works and the effect it was having in Europe we began to fear for the people and communities we work with across Africa,” said Ciaran.

“How can you implement social distancing when you live in a squatter camp with 10,000 other people? How can you practice proper hygiene when you have no access to running water?

“How can you stay at home and stay safe when you live hand to mouth and no work means no food on the table that evening?

“This is the sad reality for hundreds of millions of people across the continent whose lives were already difficult because of poverty and inequalities made worse by the corona virus.”

Donations to the 10x10 campaign can be made on the Just Giving page.

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