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Dave’s Blog November 2016

Tim Shorten writes about his London Marathon training, with some fascinating insights into young women’s health in Zambia and Kenya:

It has been a bit of a topsy turvey month for training, not least because half of it was spent on a work trip to Zambia and Kenya. I managed to squeeze in three runs whilst I was away, including a 10K in the hotel gym in Nairobi! I’ve run this distance before (admittedly several years ago!) so I was surprised at how hard I found it on this occasion – until my colleague reminded me that Nairobi is at a much higher altitude than I’m used to (approximately 1800m compared with 60m around Redgrave!). It has tickled me since then to think of this as my high-altitude training camp, to get me ready for the next 6 months as training ramps up! And it must have worked, as this morning I churned out an 11k+ run before 7 in the morning! Still no serious adverse effects on my knee, so I feel I’m in a pretty good position compared with a month ago. Just got to keep it going as the runs get longer and the mornings colder and darker!
Another advantage of my trip to Africa was the chance to be reminded of the value that Education Exchange can help deliver. I was working with Marie Stopes, evaluating a project to increase access to family planning for adolescent girls. The statistics around teenage pregnancy make for sobering reading: nearly 30% of all teenage girls fall pregnant before their 18th birthday. This is often driven by high rates of child marriage (45% of girls are married by 18), prevailing attitudes towards girls and sex, misconceptions about contraception, and poverty. Parents and communities are reluctant for girls to access family planning services, and high pregnancy rates can translate into high levels of unsafe abortion and maternal mortality – the Ministry of Health in Zambia estimates that unsafe abortion is the cause of nearly one-third of maternal deaths in the country, with young women particularly at risk.
There is a similar story to tell in Kenya, and this highlights the relevance of the work that Education Exchange has done in and around Mwatate: protecting vulnerable children and adolescents, providing opportunities to continue education, supporting health services in rural areas, and providing access to economic opportunities (*see Dave’s comments below). Having this fresh in my mind as I continue my training during November will be a big incentive to keep putting one foot in front of the other #runningformwatate

Total kilometres run this month: 52
Funds raised to date: £580

If you’ve already sponsored me – many thanks. If you haven’t yet got round to it, don’t delay! Here’s the link to donate: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/educationexchange

*Thanks Tim. The health clinic we support in Wundanyi has already worked with Marie Stopes International on a project to bring safe family planning to local young women. Mvono Clinic was chosen for this work because of the high quality of care it can offer following financial support from Education Exchange donors. So we are actively helping in this crucial area!