Another great performance from one of the runners who came to the Shoe4Africa Women's race in Iten last month. We have a blend, from juniors to grandma's, and mixed in are many of the areas best runners. Today we read in the papers that our twenty-third finisher, Isabellah from Sweden (via Kenya) set a new Swedish record of 2:23 today finishing third in the Dubai Marathon! Well done Isabellah!
The blend of International athletes really goes a long way for women's empowerment, inspiring not only the next generation, but all the women of the villages where we hold the races as they see these ladies who have traveled SO far in life! They become role models for the community.
The SHOE4AFRICA Martin Lel public primary School
A highlight of 2011 will be, and I can write this as the year begins, January 15th, 2011. This was the day that our first school was opened.
Again, it a timely occassion for Shoe4Africa... During the first two weeks of the year the Kenyan newspapers were full of criticism for Private Schools. The Government committed, about a decade ago, to provide free public schools. However because of the increasing burden of paying for teachers when this change was implemented it meant all revamping of the schools became stagnant.
Sadly private schools took advantage of this; erecting a structure, and offering a better venue. The divide worsened until this year when the Government has now started to limit the amount of private schools allowed. In a recent statement a former Minister for Education said, "Why is nobody investing in our public sector? This is where it is most needed. These rural Kenyans do not money to feed themselves..."
Then BOOM -- our supporters came along and have made a Public school the most sought after school in the region of Kosirai! This is an amazing achievement and one that took the community by surprise. They are not used to some 'unknown' friends of Shoe4Africa coming in to help needy children without getting a payback as with the private profit making schools. It is unheard of.
In fact as I browse the Internet I find that most American Charity groups are actually supporting Private Institutes and they probably don't even realize they are funding someone's business here.
So I just want to thank you (those funders) from the bottom of my heart for your most kind and thoughtful support, it could not have been more timely, and is really effective as now this is the 'go-to' school of the area.
A host of superstars came as we opened... a few: of course (2x NYC & 3x London Marathon, & world champion), Robert Cheruiyot (4x Boston, Chicago winner), (World Silver Marathon), Duncan Kibet (2nd fastest man in history 2:04:27), ( 800m), ( ), we even had Viktor Rothlin the current European Marathon Champion turn up... in fact the MC worked out the medium time for the top 10 marathons there was 2:08:00 !! Of course very inspiring for the kids!
Laptops were donated to the children.
Oh my gosh, I do not know where to begin. When I look back at 2010 and I think of 2011 I sometimes think I am in a whirlpool. But one thing I have been thinking about is an appreciation page -- we had some many nice good people help us with fund raise it would be great to have a page built on this site to honor them... I want to start with the Shoe4Africa Running team who were responsible for a six figure sum in 2010! But before that, a great email I got in December from one of our Shoe4Africa Angels' daughter - Thanks Wendy for having an amazing daughter, I am really touched!
Shoe4Africa race -- all ages compete and run for Shoes.
Greetings from Kenya. Phew I feel that we are wrapping up and moving on. I am in Nairobi so got a chance to look at the web and found this clip on the race - a sports roundup with the Shoe4Africa event featured: CLICK HERE
There was also a great TV report of the feeding program with the SMALL VOICES FOUNDATION of NYC that we did in Turkana.
Other things-- the goal to get from $1-million to over $2.5 is the next goal, and already we have a couple of really good leads (email in if you have other ideas!), furthermore in a few days I will open the first Shoe4Africa school, and also launch the second school... AND also our water project has now turned into projects as we have two compelling ideas that effect two whole towns.
It seems like the years of toil are now coming in to play -- keep tuned for more!
Today I was in Eldoret, actually discussing the second Shoe4Africa School with Claudio Berardelli & Janeth Jepkosgei when I bumped into quite a few runners, one by one -- One of them by the name of Simon Biwott who I used to run with back in 1995 along with Paul Tergat, Paul Bitok, William Sigei, Sammy Korir to name a few. Simon reminded me that I had given him and other runners running kits,
“That lasted me a good three years, we thought you were a blessing to Kenya then, to get kits and from a white man, was very special. That was encouragement to me then as I did not have.”
He remembered many details I had since forgotten and again it humbled me to think of something that I had done that had effect in a way I could have never imagined; since we trained together Simon had won the Paris, Milan, Rotterdam, Berlin & other marathons, and won a silver medal at the world championships,
Simon, the owner and director of the Livingstone Academy, Eldoret, Kenya.
Other news: #2 at the recent Shoe4Africa race, Alice Timbilil, was #1 in Brazil at the world famous San Silvestre race breaking a 17-year old record... Daniel Komen to run for Shoe4Africa in this year's marathon!
What a way to end the year! Along with Stacey Kelly's help & the Small Voices we held the Christmas feeding program again, only this time further north in Turkana. Gosh, it was an eye opener to say the least as when you distribute food to people who have elements of desperation it can get a bit crazy - stone throwing etc and crazy escape rides (in the first location only!)... BUT the goodness was food to 4,000 kids, a huge success. If one area of Kenya needed this program then it was Turkana. We went up there with Commonwealth Games Marathon Champion John Kelai, who is from Turkana, so it was a double-trip as we brought the areas athletes together who ran with John and were inspired from his success -- not many Turkanas have hit the world stage but to very difficult desert living conditions and virtually zero opportunities up here.... One other would be Kenyan Supermodel Nancy Ajuma, herself a former runner... and we stayed in a camp run by her mum!
Turkana kids; need opportunities that we take for granted - #1 no rain in 2010 or 2009! No soil to grow crops!
The Shoe4Africa Women's race was a big success today in Iten. Former World Champion Rose Kosgei was first to the line in 16:34, just one second from Helena Kirop's course record, thus missing the cash bonus. However she did scoop up $500 for the win. Second place, 16:39, went to Internationalist and one of Kenya's best females for the past decade, Alice Timbilil, with Jepchirchir Cheruiyot taking the third spot, 16:59. The race was packed with world class athletes, many choosing to run easy with the ladies and girls of the village who attended the event. There was an international flavor with Dutch, Swedish and a British entrant; the wife of Mo Farah, (who held the finish line tape with Edna Kiplagat, the NYC Marathon winner), Tania ran her first ever race - a 5k cross country at 8,000ft altitude outside of Pieter & Lornah's 'High Altitude Training Centre' (HATC).
The prize money extended down to 12th place ($100) but there was a special surprise for the 8th place finisher Jessica Jemutai who scooped $500 as the first 'athlete to have not yet left Kenya' -- be sure she will soon! After the event shoes were given out by world champions Janet Jepkosgei, Florence Kiplagat, Edna Kiplagat, Viola Kibiwott, and world silver medalists Peninah Arusei and Sylvia "Sleepy" Kibet to a newly inspired group of empowered women.
Edna Kiplagat, Jepchirchir Cheruiyot, Alice Timbilil, Rose Kosgei, and Janet Jepkosgei
Greets from Iten, Kenya. Tomorrow the women's race takes part here and days ago (40-hrs after we opened registration) the race was full to capacity! Really the community is pulling for this one; my neighbor, double World Champion Florence Kiplagat, wants to donate shoes! She will hold the finish line tape. Yesterday I was doing the 'tough' job, sorting through a huge pile of shoes; it took me the whole day to count out 500-pairs of shoes!
This was half way through the day. Big thanks to Dorcas and Anne from Turkana for pinning the numbers on the T shirts. We do this as people have odd ways of pinning out here in Kenya.
Today I am checking up on some school girls we sponsor whilst doing the finishing touches for the race day. Another important element of our program; development of Education. Anyway, I rush off now to do some work, but will send in a full report of the days' event in a couple of days. Asante
So much happening, see what we will be doing in the next month; but first if you have four minutes -- here is my run video to Kilimanjaro!
AND TURN UP THE VOLUME!!!
Okay, coming up:
12/24 Shoe4Africa Women's Empowerment run -- a village of Kenya ladies do their first running race along with multiple World Champions Cross Country), Lornah Kiplagat (Half Marathon & cross country - 4 times world champion), and the NYC Marathon winner Edna Kiplagat amongst other 'power' women -- the women promote AIDS Awareness through this run
12/26 Christmas feeding program -- food bags given out for a day's family meal to little kids, so they become the providers and the gift bearers
1/3 Education Run - the holidays are expensive and most kids can't immediately buy the supplies needed to start the school year, hence they start off a month later -- running in our events (everything we do is free),not only gives them a T shirt & Shorts but also the necessary school supplies
1/9 Opening the first ever Shoe4Africa Primary Public School, honoring local athlete for his commitment to excellence in both sport & education.
1/15 Announcing, with World Champion & Olympic Silver medalist Janeth Jepkosgei, the start of School number two!