When I was wondering about going back to the Congo in March, I got an email saying that someone had commented on my blog. I thought it was a touch strange as I hadn’t blogged in months. So I opened it up and the comment that was left was just bizarre and made me even more determined to go back to the Congo.
“I don’t get it: how running 12 marathons a year could help people in Congo ? By the way, I lived in Kinshasa and worked in the Bukavu region when based in Goma. Amnesty international must be the worst choice to help people in desperate regions of the world with their current life. And no, 12 marathons-triathlons is nowhere near a “world record” as you put it. I ran 17 a year. A group of people named the Marathons Maniacs run 52 a year. Some more than 100 a year…For what is worth…!”
At the time I was pretty upset by what this person had said, I couldn’t really understand why he was having a go at me for something that I thought was right to do. Having thought about it more and more, it was another tipping point for me to go back and to keep people aware of the Congo.
It isn’t about running 26 miles or 2600 miles, picking up medals and PBs. I run because that’s basically all I know and think I can do. The distance is arbitrary, but I’m just trying to do something to create a conversation starter to get them aware of the conflict in the Congo. Not enough people know about the situation in the Congo, what the women in that region have lived through and still do. I’m going there to try and shed a bit of light on the world that has been in the shade for too long.
An old friend sent me an email in 2010 which still perfectly captures what i’m trying to achieve:
“Just read your blog and wanted to tell you that I’ve pretty much told every person on my course and most of my good friends about your exploits over the last 6 months, never deliberately it just crops up in conversation. It always starts with a “holy jesus he’s crazy” or “fucking hell he’s mad” from them as they listen but always ends with them wanting to know what is fuelling you and i always make sure i tell them about the conflict in Congo & the lack of coverage. They are always interested and can’t believe what is going on in a small pocket of a forgotten bit of Africa.”
I want people to know that the troubles in Congo exist and be aware. If they care about them then great, if not then that’s their choice, but I want to try and give as many people the option to care as possible. Last time it was through running this time its with a bit of cooking.
You might have read that I’m going to the Congo and think, oh he’s done that before, what’s new about that, what’s changed? This is far from straight forward. This isn’t a holiday. This is going to be tough, not physically, but mentally.
The hardest thing and the one thing I’m really worried about is that people will be fatigued, think they’ve heard it all before. It’s been three years since last visiting the Congo and things have changed and I want to show you how they have changed and why it is still paramount to take an interest in the Congo.
When I’m away for the next ten days, I’d really appreciate it if you can share updates with friends and family so that more people are made aware about what has been a forgotten conflict for too long.