Our 40-foot shipping container is loaded and locked at the Port of Houston, ready to be hoisted aboard the Harrier Hunter on her voyage to Mombasa, Kenya. Her February 2 scheduled departure marks another milestone of Global Footprints – Project Kenya. On our first trip to the village of Matunget, in 2013, we brought 200 pounds of solar reading lights, school books and supplies, and indestructible soccer balls in our luggage. This time, we are shipping over 11,000 pounds, including a 6,000 lb, 72 hp 1989 Ford 5900 tractor (Big Blue), an 800 lb disc harrow, 100 solar reading lights and 15 boxes of running gear inside our shipping container, which will serve as a 320 square foot steel garage for Big Blue, and the first building on the 4 acres of land Global Running Culture purchased for construction of a new head start school that will serve 75 students aged 4-7. While we appreciate and celebrate each day and each step forward, we recognize this major accomplishment and marvel at the journey to here at the beginning of what promises to be a big year.
In 1967, 2 years after Kenya gained her independence, Abraham’s mom Margaret saw that from a young age, children in the village started working on the family farms as soon as they could lift tools and learn what to do. By the time they qualified to attend the government-funded elementary school, a 6+ mile run or walk away, they were making valuable contributions to the farming effort, and school was often not a priority. The typical student would attend sporadically over a period of years and graduation from elementary school would sometimes be the highest level of academic achievement. She decided to take matters into her own hands and after achieving donation of land by a local farmer and calling for a harambee, she started a school for the young children of the village.
Margaret taught her young students the basics, prepared them for elementary school, and instilled early habits that helped generations of students reach higher. The school has achieved amazing results despite limited resources; students’ elementary school test scores rank higher than other rural communities. Constructed on land donated by a neighboring farmer, long before early childhood education was provided outside urban areas, the school has never received government support or been served by electricity. Margaret taught for 4 decades, paid in food from students’ families, and now her daughter Emily, who obtained her teaching certificate, is devoted to her students and to carrying on Margaret’s legacy.
Since our first visit, Global Running Culture has planned to create a new school that will qualify for government support and we are thrilled that Big Blue is on the way. We will use the tractor to build the school and after is is complete, will start a business plowing and preparing fields of local farmers, generating funds to supplement operation of the school and to help support our next project, providing clean, easily accessible water to the village thanks to the efforts of Abraham and our friends at Global Pearls.
The villagers’ commitment to harambee remains strong in Kenya: “we all pull together.” When one family has a project to carry out or needs help, the rest of the village rallies to the cause, providing food, labor and support. Tractors are few and far between in the rural areas of Kenya, and Big Blue and the head start school are our contributions to the harambee that Margaret began half a century ago.
When Abraham obtained the opportunity to attend a training camp that produces some of the fastest distance runners in the world, Margaret told Abraham “run for me.” She knew that his passion for running would carry him far. Abraham has achieved personal success while retaining the passion to help the next generations of children in Matunget benefit from the powers of education and sports. Every Santa Fe Thunder participant and supporter is a member of Global Running Culture’s Harambee. We invite you to follow the journey of Big Blue more than halfway around the world to Mombasa, Kenya and then on to Matunget by truck. Our journey and efforts are not easy, and obstacles arise on a regular basis. But the journey energizes us and we celebrate each step forward. As Abraham says “when you want to run fast, run alone. When you want to run far, run together.” During our first visit, the children of Matunget ran together, with the entire village cheering them on. We look forward to enabling the children to learn together in their new school and to set their sights on achievements that will make their village and the world a better place.
When we travel, soon after we wake up, Abraham often says “another day brother” and I reply “yes, another day.” It helps keep us grounded during fast times and long days. As runners, we know that keeping a steady pace is key, and getting too excited has a tendency to affect our focus and slow us down later on. That doesn’t stop us, though, from recognizing and appreciating accomplishments. We savor every step in our journey and know that sharing milestones and giving thanks energizes us while advancing our cause. These are the first tractor, farming implements, and shipping container we have ever bought and the first time we have shipped anything across oceans. Each item required substantial consideration and effort, and once the Harrier Hunter departs from Houston, I know that we will feel lighter and energized for the next steps. We feel absolutely blessed and joyous to realize that the means of carrying out our dream is soon to be headed around the world – connecting cultures and bringing hope and opportunity to young lives and their village.
By running The Race Different, you support Global Running Culture’s mission. We have enjoyed establishing and growing Santa Fe Thunder over the past 6 years and look forward to sharing our plans to ensure that the 7th running is the best yet! Stay tuned for the developing story of our container’s trip to Matunget, news about the Race, special discounts and insider’s tips on how to make your time in Santa Fe that much more special. Here is one for now – book your pre or post-race outdoor hot tub, massage or dinner at Ten Thousand Waves early, it will be packed on Race weekend!