Following a jam-packed January 2017 of UGM Community news, we weren’t sure if February’s post would quite compare – but we’re thrilled to say…this month it’s a real corker! The countdown to #UGM17 is now truly on – runners’ training is in full swing, we’ve had our first social training run, those last minute registrations are coming through, and we’ve even been shortlisted for an award for ‘Best International Event’!

Plus, we’ve got two exciting stories from Uganda & the Charity Projects. One told from two volunteers currently supporting the projects, and the second, from our Charity Impact Lead, Kate.

Here’s what’s been happening in the UGM Community in February…

 

More Sign Ups! And our runners get down to training!

Since January, the sign-ups have just kept on coming! Traditionally our biggest month for people deciding to take the plunge is January, but we’re thrilled to have seen them steadily keep coming through in February as well. The UGM17 really is shaping up to be a massive event with a very special bunch of people, and we couldn’t be more excited!

We’re also loving the fact that this year’s runners are being so social on social media, sharing their training updates on the Facebook group, Twitter, Instagram and Strava. The team spirit is really coming through and we’re not even in Uganda yet!

Keep up the great work guys and feel free to send us more photos & updates – we’re thrilled to see training in full swing and absolutely loving the great vibe!

 

Peckham parkrun social run

Talking of training, a big shoutout to everyone who made it down to our first social training run of the year, at Peckham Rye parkrun. They braved a 5K distance on an especially fresh February morning and got a few more miles in, plus treated themselves to a coffee (and cake) afterwards. Thank you to everyone who made it, for what was a great morning run!

If you’re able to make it to London and fancy making your training a bit more social, plus you would like to meet the team and some of your fellow runners, than check out of social training run schedule here.

 

We’ve been shortlisted at the UK Running Awards – please vote for us!

We’re extremely pleased to announce, we’ve been shortlisted at the UK Running Awards for ‘Best International Event’. After winning the award last year, we’re thrilled to be shortlisted and in with a chance of winning it for a second time. A big thank you to everyone has voted for us so far! If you can spare two minutes to vote for us, we’d really appreciate it, especially if you’ve been lucky enough to experience our event and would like to help us win the award.

For more information on our shortlisting and how to vote, check out our blog here. Please hurry though if you intend to vote – the deadline is Monday 20th March at 5pm. A big thank you for your support, as it makes a massive difference to us and the projects!

 

Steve & Tanya tell their story of volunteering with the Charity Projects

Andy Bownds, our Community Partnership Manager based in Masaka, has had two special visitors the last few weeks – his brother and sister-in-law! They’ve travelled out to Uganda for three months, spending two of them volunteering at the UGM’s Charity Projects, doing their best to help out and make a difference. They’ve also been getting to know Ugandan culture and seeing what the beautiful, stunning country has to offer.

We’ve been very lucky, as they’ve both written a short piece describing their time at the projects and in Uganda in general. If you’ve never been to Uganda before, or are joining us in June and would like a preview of what you can expect, these two blurbs are a must-read. They really sum up the wonder and magic of their adventure! Read them here.

We hope they enjoy the rest of their time in Uganda, and thank you so much for choosing to use your time in Uganda to support the projects, we massively appreciate, as do the projects & their communities!

 

Kate returns from Uganda and sums up her time there!

Last month, we wrote about how our Charity Impact and Communications Lead, Kate, travelled to Uganda to work with our Masaka based team and the Charity Projects. Well how time flies, as her five weeks are now up and she’s returned to the UK. And to celebrate the end of her trip, we gave her the daunting task of summing up her adventure and experiences.

Another must-read if you’re joining us in Uganda or thinking about it (or have been there and want to get nostalgic) – we thought this would be the perfect way to end this week’s community blog… Enjoy 🙂

Running, East Africa and sustainable development; with all of my passions in one place joining the small and dedicated team at Uganda International Marathon last year seemed as natural as pulling on my running shoes. 

I’ve a real drive to see every person (no matter where they come from) have a fair chance in life, an ethos that is shared by all of us here at UGM. These past five weeks saw me working with all of our supported projects in Masaka, seeing how our partners make sure that every penny fund-raised by our amazing runners gets to the people who need it most – making sure that every beneficiary is given that opportunity to grab life. 

Its been both a wonderful and hard five weeks – I’ve been welcomed into homes, schools, hospitals and communities. I’ve seen how an everyday person can step up and work tirelessly against a virus such as HIV, or battle the stigma that surrounds disability whilst living with a disability themselves. Each story that I’ve heard and each person that I’ve met has simply solidified my belief that by working together and giving people a chance, lives can be changed. 

It’s been nigh on impossible to know which story to write down, there are so many moments from my time in Masaka that I want to share. Here is just one that I know will stick with me. 

‘Trying to explain last Friday and struggling…

We visited AICOD, a partner project through Uganda International Marathon – A Race Like No Other who work through communities and women focusing on disability. In Uganda there is huge stigma and persecution surrounding disability, but [at AICOD] they work steadily, firmly, believing every child and person can live a life of laughter, dignity and within all human rights.

It left me speechless to hear how many disabled children in Uganda are left out and how they are treated, and how a woman who gives birth to a disabled infant can be blamed and beaten. But what also left me amazed was how they just get on with life at the project regardless- determined, often supporting others, and in my eyes quite simply beautiful.

I met women, children and men; we smiled together, listened and I learned. And I know I was not the only one in our team who wasn’t truly touched by our time there.

AICOD is a led by the sweetest couple who could not do enough as both our friends and wonderful hosts. They are learning to be mushroom farmers to become sustainable, their first crop is on its way. If any team can succeed, it’s them.’

I’ve heard and read stories of people coming out to Uganda ‘the pearl of Africa’ and falling in love immediately with the people and country. That didn’t happen with me. It wasn’t a ‘bam!’ moment. Instead the rich red soil and feisty, compassionate people of Uganda slowly crept into my heart, and I have a sneaking suspicion it is there to stay.

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