If, like me, you travel and meet people all around the world you will frequently be reminded that many people live in conditions that those of us fortunate enough to live in richer countries would consider incredibly tough.
And if, like me, you read the World Bank’s data about the countries you visit, you will notice that, while life expectancy is growing in almost every country in the world, it’s still substantially lower in many countries than it is in richer countries.
After a while you’ll start to ask yourself whether you should be doing more than (in my case) donations to Oxfam and the occasional disaster appeal.
The turning point for me was probably my trip to Lebanon where I ran with both Syrian refugees and kids from the meanest streets in Beirut. I realised I couldn’t keep just thinking about this – I actually had to do something.
Pretty much every country in the world will tell you that they need additional investment in health care, education, housing, transport, clean water, the economy etc etc. All vitally important of course – but also all areas in which I neither have any expertise nor sufficient funds to make a difference.
Then I realised that I should stick to what Run the World is all about and support people / programmes / organisations that:
- Promote and encourage people to adopt physically active and healthy lifestyles ; and/or
- Promote cancer awareness
I know from personal experience that, done in the right way, this kind of work can make a huge difference to people’s lives. And yet have a relatively low per capita cost. In other words, and at the risk of sounding like the business man I used to be, it has the potential for an extraordinarily high social return on capital.
To cut a long story short, the end result of all this was the Run the World Foundation and I’m both delighted and excited to say that the Foundation is now funding its first project : We’re working in Cameroon with the Noela Lyonga Foundation on the Youths Who Run the World project.
In Noela’s words :
“This project is called Youths who Run the World and it has as objective to raise awareness on active and healthy lifestyles to prevent illnesses like cancer, heart disease and depression. Focus areas will include:
- Importance of Physical exercise
- Balance diet eating habits
- Drug abuse prevention
- Better sleeping guides
This project targets 500+ participants between 12 and 25 years of age from: juvenile homes, less privileged groups and schools (5 or more institutions). These participants will receive presentations from the above topics and will participate in a 2km run from the 1st of May to the 1st of June. This will help develop healthy lifestyle mindsets in the minds of youths from 12 to 25 years of age in Cameroon.”
The project has just launched – please see below for Noela’s initial feed-back and a sense of how it’s all working.
“We had our first 2km run and presentation on May 4. We started at 8:00am with a presentation at Campus 1 of the Douala University. This was followed by the 2km run from Campus 1 to Campus 2 and back to Campus 1 at Ange Raphael where the University is located totally covering 2km and 700m.
Before and after the run we had some exercises
and the youths were so happy about the run and presentation.
In total we had 150 youths from different departments in the University of Douala. We are planning the next run within this week but we are still to confirm the date from a secondary school and we hope to also get hold of the finances from the bank this week.
Below is a link to a video.
I’ll blog more about this project as it progresses but, for the moment, I’d like to finish by wishing Noela and her team the very best for the rest for the project – it certainly seems to have got off to a great start!
Finally, a big thank you everyone around the world who has supported me on my journey to setting up the Run the World Foundation – including everyone at SB Overseas and the refugees I ran with in Arsal, Ghia, the students and everyone at Tahaddi in Beirut, and Rima and Julian. Particular thanks also go to British High Commissioner Rowan Laxton, Mireille and everyone at the British High Commission in Cameroon who introduced me to Noela.
If you are reading this and know of a project that would meet the criteria then please do get in touch. (Please note that, in addition to the objectives set out above, the focus is on supporting the most disadvantaged communities around the world.)