Earlier this year I was lucky enough to go on a life changing adventure to Sierra Leone with a charity called Street Child. A charity of selfless, empowering, tenacious individuals, whom I now consider family. After a week of being moved to tears of joy on a daily basis, volunteering with the charity, and learning about their projects changing children’s lives, I took part in my first every marathon. I will NEVER forget this trip. Desperately hungry for more I signed myself up for the Nepal Marathon this November, just several months later.
And so, off I flew to Nepal to join a team of pioneers as part of a movement known as the Impact Marathon Series. The Impact Marathon Series, is a collection of marathons created in all four corners of the world, by the brilliant Nick Kershaw. Nick is a young adventurer with a heart of gold and a vision to use the power of running to transform the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves. Driven by his desire to empower and create change, it was an honour to join Nick along with a team of Street Child volunteers.
Fundraising and working closely with Street Child Nepal I spent time in both Kathmandu, and the rural mountain village of Kakani, getting to know the ambassadors working on the ground in Nepal to put the dreams of Street Child into action.
Keen to share my adventure with you, the next few posts on my blog will piece together the week I spent in the mountains through a mixture of diaries, creative writing, photographs, and music.
Let’s start from Day One shall we?
Arriving at the airport alone, my excitement was instantly multiplied as two friendly faces tapped on my shoulder in the check-in queue. Who else but Bart, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Street Child, and Josh, an ardent ambassador for Street Child and marathon running legend?! Adopted as their daughter for the remainder of the journey, I knew I’d be safe under their wing. As expected, the night time flights were a total blur. Yet, what could have been a painfully long and arduous flight, was made slightly less arduous by the Nepali family I shared my row with. A husband and wife, with their little boy, were travelling back home to introduce their son to his relatives for the first time ever. We shared stories, and I told them all about the marathon to pass the time. It was priceless to hear about the city of Kathmandu from people who had grown up there, and I think we both enjoyed the company to pass the time.
On the transfer, which ended up being more of a sprint from one plane to the next, we met some new members of our Street Child family; Sam from Barcelona, and Tom from London.
The next flight was again a total blur as I drifted in and out of sleep, unable to feel my legs. After what felt like a few seconds of shut-eye, I was awoken by the Nepali man next to me poking my shoulder enthusiastically. Glowing from ear to ear, his face lit up as the tiny round window beside him became filled with a picturesque view of the Himalayas! Like a painting you might find on the wall of a wealthy Lord’s manor, I couldn’t believe it! With narration from my Nepali plane neighbour we passed Everest followed by Manaslu with its distinctive vertical ridge. I was completely enchanted, and I’ll be forever grateful to my neighbour for waking me up from my sleepy blur, to experience this spectacular birds-eye view of the world’s tallest mountain.
After landing safe and sound in Kathmandu, we were greeted in the airport by non-other than the creator of Impact Marathon Series himself; Nick! His energy screamed passion, and you could just sense from the look in his eyes that this was the start of his dream coming to life. Everything he had been planning for the past 14 months was beginning to fall into place. We had arrived! I knew from this moment on, that this was going to be a week of sheer inspiration and awe.
A mini bus took us through the beautiful chaos of Kathmandu to our haven of a hotel. In true travellers style we were wedged in like sardines of course, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Sam and I chatted away, mesmerised by the crazy city around us. I instantly adored her sharp wit and sarcasm and we both fell silent as we passed a baby cow chilling in the middle of the road, before bursting into floods of laughter.
With endless hugs, reunions, and introductions upon our arrival at Hotel Manaslu we settled down for a traditional Nepali dinner together, before an inspirational welcome speech from Nick and Emma, our Street Child wonder-woman. The dedication that these guys have put into the project was clear as day, and I am still continuously blown away by their fervour.
Not long after dinner I was more than ready for bed, and so I hit the pillow rather inelegantly, like a sack of bricks ready for the new day.
Stay tuned to follow our story! And please if you haven’t already take a look at my fundraising page http://www.impactmarathon.com/fundraising/sophie-house your donations are what drive this magical project!
Lots of love,