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Date : 7th February, 2019
Time : 56’ 05”
Number of runners (total to date) : 167 – 160 at school + 7 in the evening (3433)
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3382173702
Jean-Luc Apoix was the founding Director of the Ruban Vert school in Gabon. It’s an impressive place (I talked there in 2018) and the International School in Ouagadougou – where he’s currently director – is equally impressive. To give you a sense of the steps the International School takes to provide their students with everything they might need, they have their own generator, their own wells and their own team of technicians to keep everything working (no easy task during the Hamrattan – the dry windy season when the sand and dust blow in from the Sahara desert).
Jo Richardson, the school’s Community Relations Officer, had invited me to talk at the school. Firstly to 100+ students from the junior school (picture above). They were a great crowd and, after the talk, we all went outside for a perfectly attended 1 km run round the school’s sports field.
A break, an unscheduled chat with Jean-Luc, an interview with Jo for the school magazine and a photo opportunity with one of the the school’s turtles followed. Apparently I run slower than the turtle in question…thanks Jo…
It was then time to talk to the c 100 strong senior school. Following the talk, we had a Q&A session and, as seems to happen at most schools, one of the students had a question I hadn’t come across before, “Seeing as you recommended dance as a form of exercise, could you show us your dance moves?” Obviously this was highly tempting but, in the interest of saving everyone a considerable degree of embarrassment, I declined.
After the talk we went outside for a photo and a further 1km run. And a few dance moves…
From the International School I made my way to the Enko Ouaga International School, run by Thierry Adam who, coincidentally, had also previously been Ruban Vert’s Director. I talked to their junior school
and senior school
A different atmosphere but two more great audiences and, again, they managed to come up with a new question, “ How did you react when your mother died [of cancer]?” Not the easiest question to answer – apologies if I got a little emotional!
Despite all sorts of people helping, at this stage we still hadn’t managed to organise a run in Ouaga. Fortunately, the schools came to the rescue. Pie Traore, the PE teacher at the International School, organised for us to run at the Martyrs Monument that evening where we were joined by Xousanth Souvandy (French teacher), Nathan Pozmentier and Isaac Kone (students at the International School), Sirata Sanogo from Enko and Daniel (Pie’s son.)
For those who don’t know it, Martyrs Monument – below – sits in the middle of a large roundabout with a diameter of about 1.5km. Its also where you’ll find hundreds of people exercising of an evening. Most of the running and walking takes place on the road and, as we discussed at the time, wouldn’t it be good if there was a track inside the perimeter so that so that everyone could run and walk away from the traffic.
I ended up chatting with Xousanth for the last few kilometres. He was born in Laos and spent some of his younger years in a refugee camp in Thailand. A camp where every day involved danger and a hunt for food. Which is the kind of real life challenge that puts the lives of those of us who live in Western Europe in context.
After the run, Pie, Xousanth and Daniel and I went for a coba – somewhere between an antelope and buffalo apparently – meal to celebrate completing the run. An excellent end to an excellent day!
It just remains for me to say a huge thank you to Jo, Jena-Luc, Thierry, Pie, Xousanth, Nathan, Isaac, Sirata, Daniel and all the students at the International and Enko schools for the run, the company and all the help and support during the day.
If you happen to be in London on July 4th 2020 then we’d love to see you for the UK, and final, leg of Run the World!
If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11
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