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Why I Ran 37 Miles…

…AND 4 REASONS I BELIEVE FIELDS OF LIFE IS THE CHARITY TO WATCH IN 2020 

This year I decided to take on two challenges, thanks to much persuasion from a friend, Craig Sorbie. First, a team of four of us, Craig Sorbie, Todd Weller, and Colin Sellers, and I ran every hour for 24 hours, getting up on the hour, every hour to go out and run, even through the night. Then Craig and I did a duathlon, cycling 50 miles, and running a half marathon at the end. And I don’t even run!!  

The 24miles in 24hours was horrendous, especially at 3am. I wanted to sleep, and my legs were tired.  But every hour, on the hour, the phone would ring and the four of us would chat to each other, motivating each other to keep going… When light came up at abut 5am, things were much better, but by 5pm I was absolutely exhausted again. A few cups of coffee and some motivational music kept me going through to the end. Just. 

The response was incredible. We had over 100 people sponsor us, raising over £2,500 in that 24 hours alone. Craig, Todd, and Colin were absolute fundraising (and running) machines!  

Then the duathlon started early as well. The 50 mile (80km) cycle led me to Loch Lomond and back, and to try and run 13.2 miles (20km) after all we had done certainly was a case of mind over matter. Craig seemed to hardly sweat though… he must need a harder challenge next time! Iron man?

But why would we do all of that? 

Yes, we raised a lot of money, (over £6,000 in total) but that was not the main reason we did it.  

The main reason we wanted to do this is that we wanted to raise awareness about Fields of Life, a charity that I personally believe is one of the most important charities in the world right now.  

So, for those of you who maybe don’t know Fields of Life, please don’t let my efforts be in vain and take a moment to read the following four reasons I love this organisation and why I believe it is so relevant right now… 

1. BLACK LIVES REALLY DO MATTER

The video of the murder of George Floyd has sparked widespread horror and disbelief, as we watched a black man desperately cry out for his life for almost 9 gruelling minutes while a police officer kneeled on his neck. His cries “I can’t breathe” has moved the whole world, bringing to light a much deeper-rooted racism in American culture and beyond.  

And I believe that this moment is also a wake-up call for all of us, globally.  I believe that it is time to recognize that there are hundreds of millions of people of colour crying out every day, saying “I can’t breathe!” with no clean water, no electricity, and no way out of their extreme poverty. We must not be silent anymore. It’s time for change. 

That is why at Fields of Life we have been investing in young people for the last 27 years.  

And Investment is very different to Aid. But we don’t look for a financial return, we reap a social return. We invest in young, future leaders of tomorrow, to be change makers in their communities and beyond. And it is working. 

2. EDUCATION IS THE ROUTE OUT OF POVERTY

Education is the route out of poverty. 

For six years I worked with an amazing healthcare charity, bringing healthcare to some of the most vulnerable people in the world. It was on my many trips to North India and Malawi that I truly saw the horror of extreme poverty, watching in distress as parents had to make choices of  whether  to pay for their child’s pain relief or  pay to feed their other children that week. 

It was wonderful being able to provide help to those who were suffering, but something within me wanted to be able to do more. What if I could be part of a mission that empowers people to overcome poverty in the first place? 

I wanted to be part of the solution, as well as helping people in need. 

Nelson Mandela famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” And it is true. If we want to address racism, if we want to abolish poverty to museums, we need to empower young people in education. 

Fields of Life’s mantra is simple. 

We aim to transform lives and communities.  

And we do this through giving as many children as possible the precious gift of a quality education. 

And it works. 

 Fields of Life has built over 127 schools across Africa and  helps educate over 60,000 children every year. Our alumni include nurses, doctors, pastors, teachers, marketing professionals, musicians, and entrepreneurs. The leaders of tomorrow. 

We empower the most vulnerable children through funding their individual schooling or vocational training, but we don’t stop there. We use some of the sponsorship money, and invest a lot more, to improve  our partner schools for everyone, by providing sustainable food, teacher training, child protection training, and so much more.  

Because when a school community is thriving, the pupils are too. 

It costs £25 per month to provide a child with the precious gift of school education. 

It costs £100 per month to provide vocational training to a young adult, equipping them to be entrepreneurs and leaders in their communities. 

3. ITS A TWOWAY MISSION

Everyone I have met in the UK and Ireland who has interacted with Fields of Life says that it is one of the most outstanding organisations that they have ever encountered. In fact, this is the main reason I joined.  

I have spoken with multiple individuals who have seen great  success in their business life, and yet they say that partnering with Fields of Life has been  one of the most rewarding experiences of their life, the best thing they have ever done!

In November in Uganda, I watched a man finally meet the young man he had been sponsoring through education for the last 15 years, with tears in his eyes. There is no doubt in my mind that this encounter was enriching both their lives. 

I’ve heard story after story of people who have come to faith in God because of the spiritual experiences they have had in Africa, where they have met with people who have so little materially, and yet are so filled with joy and love. 

For too long we have been talking about mission and charity as Westerners helping those ‘poor Africans.’ But at Fields of Life we know it is often the other way around.

4. A MISSION FOCUSED ON LOVE

Love is in the very DNA of Fields of Life. 

Rev. Trevor Stevenson started the charity when he travelled to Uganda 27 years ago feeling an overwhelming love and compassion for the people he met. He felt God speak to him, asking him “What are you going to do with what you have seen?” 

127 schools and hundreds of thousands of children later, this question is still resounding today. 

What are we going to do with what we see in our world?  

And love is what guides all our decisions. Decisions about how we set up sustainable, long lasting programmes. Decisions about how we will commit at least 90% of all donations to charitable activities. Decisions about who we partner with and why. 

So, this is Fields of Life, and this is why I feel it is one of the most important charities in the world right now. As the world tries to find a way forward from Covid-19, and the killing of George Floyd, perhaps we can all take time to reflect on the kind of society we want to live in, a society that invests in the people we have left behind. 

Knowing Craig, he will soon be on the phone planning our next crazy challenge… Maybe this time you can join us… 

Tony 

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