Great Ethiopian Run 2017 - How we got on!
Posted by Francesca Rutherford on Tuesday 12th December 2017
In early 2016 I was invited to take part in the Great Ethiopian Run (GER) on behalf of Ethiopiad. It was explained that I would need sponsorship of £2,500 and a JustGiving page would be the best way to organise that. I was assured that while it was called a Run, I would be able to walk the 10Kms of the course. The main carrot of doing this trip for me was to visit the Hamlin Fistula Hospital which is one of the projects supported by Ethiopiad. This all seemed an exciting challenge and I agreed to ask for the sponsorship and go.
The political situation in the country was uncertain in November 2016 and the visit was cancelled with the confident hope that we could go the following year and so it happened. We set off from Heathrow in a group of 23 on November 22nd 2017, comprising a small group of donors (6 in number) and 17 people from the Reed Recruitment Company who have Ethiopiad as their preferred charity. It was a mixed group of ages and experience, all of which contributed to a very lively company.
The visit to Addis Ababa was twofold. Not only were we taking part in the GER, but also seeing at first hand the various projects that are funded by Ethiopiad. For me this meant a steep learning curve of what is being done there with partners on the ground. Our first visit was to the Hamlin Fistula Hospital which was the place I knew most about. This inspirational hospital was founded by two dedicated obstetricians Reginald and Catherine Hamlin from Sydney Australia to help women in Ethiopia who have suffered terrible consequences from unassisted obstructed labour. It was a joy to visit the quiet peaceful place where women have repair operations and are able to re-join their communities.
Ethiopiaid also gives grants to other partners like the Hope Enterprises which feeds street children who would otherwise go to school hungry. It was an experience to hear about the numbers who come and the difference that is made. The breakfast of warm milk, a bun and a banana is desperately needed by many. We visited the Hope School which caters for education for the poorest children from Kindergarten age children right up to school leavers. In addition we saw the vocational training offered in courses ranging from sewing and cookery to metal working and woodwork.
One visit which was especially enjoyable was to the Cheshire Ethiopia centre for children with physical disabilities. Remarkable work is done to provide a huge range of care and equipment, including building wheelchairs and tricycles. The afternoon of the day there was spent in playing with the children of all ages and the Reed group had obviously spent much time preparing for this and brought all manner of games, toys and activities. The whizzing balloons, the face painting and the manicure sessions spring to mind as well as the instant Polaroid photographs!
The GER was the focal point of the trip and turned out to be one huge street party with 44,000 participants. Obviously some of the front runners were trying to set good times but the vast majority ran, walked and danced with bands at every corner and everybody taking selfies at all opportunities. Some of our company set times they were very pleased with, ie. under the hour, but most of us just got round the course as enjoyably as possible. The group I was part of stopped to have a beer or a cola at the 8KM mark. We all finished in good shape and have the medal to prove it!
So it is a trip I can recommend to anyone. The spirit of the group was excellent and the uplift from seeing the projects and the feeling that the money raised is spent in excellent ways is deeply satisfying.