***** RESULT JUST IN *****
While Billi rests her legs somewhere in the shadow of the Coliseum and relaxes after her morning run around Rome earlier, Declan @ just-one here to randomly and somewhat cheekily hijack the top of Billi’s page to say that according to the information on Maratona di Roma’s official website, Billi successfully finished the course with her real time listed as 04:05:03. Not knowing the first thing about running a marathon (other than being fairly sure it’s something I currently imagine I’m unlikely to ever do myself), I reckon that’s got to be the second most noteworthy figure listed on this here page… The other one being the incredible €5,100+ total that Billi has managed to raise for just-one so far through the incredible generosity of folks like you, who’ve kindly visited this page and so willingly donated much needed and valuable funds via the links below. Here’s to the total perhaps rising further still over the next few days – before Billi returns triumphantly to Kathmandu to rapturous applause from all at just-one!
Now, back to Billi’s voice and as she said previously:
Some of you may wonder how I ended up supporting just-one’s impressive work with the street children of Kathmandu, and in order to explain this, I need to go back a few years.
I remember when I first arrived in the Nepalese capital in October 2004, I hardly knew anyone and on top of feeling a lonely, the government of the then Kingdom of Nepal had imposed a curfew the day after I had arrived. The curfew was a measure to stop the violence against Nepali Muslims that was triggered after 12 Nepalese workers were violently killed in Iraq.
Back then I still went to New Orleans Café in Thamel (there are a lot of other good cafés and restaurants now) and one day when I was having my coffee, marvelling at this amazing apparatus that provided the first wireless internet I had ever experienced, a friendly face popped up behind a computer screen asking whether my connection was as slow as his. That was when I first met Declan.
As you do, we started chatting and I remember clearly listening in awe to what he had to say about the work of the organisation he was establishing in Kathmandu. He had arrived at a very similar time to me and even though he had no intention of being a ‘do-gooder’ in Nepal, he soon realised that there was something to be done about the plight of the many street children in Kathmandu. And so he founded just-one.
Of course, I had noticed these kids as well as they usually mill about in the tourist district of Thamel waiting for the generous traveller to buy them a piece of pizza or a donut. A deed that usually makes the holidaymaker feel better as they are giving food and not money, but an action that actually keeps kids on the street. “Can you see that kid over there?” I recall Declan saying one day, pointing at a child that looked pretty respectable but was hanging out with a few ‘shadier’ looking characters. “I know for a fact that, even though poor, that kid’s from a decent home. I give it two weeks though and I am sure he’ll end up here on the streets, as whatever food he gets from the well-intentioned tourists of Thamel is going to be much more attractive than the Dhal Bhat (rice with lentils) his parents can provide him with.”
As so often, Declan was right and for this reason, part of just-one‘s work has involved trying to educate tourists about not giving the kids anything – not even food as it simply encourages them to stay on the streets and often refuse the assistance of organisations better able to support them in the longer term.
I have known Declan for almost ten years now and I have spent many a night listening to his stories and marvelling at his willpower and commitment to make just-one work. I can also recall several times when he was close to giving up, when, for example, one or other of the kids they were trying to “re-socialise” had run off and gone back to the world of cream donuts and sniffing glue.
However, there have also been many success stories over the years and this is what keeps Declan going. Since 2004 just-one has managed to get dozens of children off the streets, out of exploitative situations of child-labour, safely reunited with their families and back into school or vocational training opportunities. He shared recently that 5 more of the children receiving educational support from the organisation are about to sit their end-of-highschool exams and join the growing number of beneficiaries now leading more secure and independent lives thanks to the dedicated support of just-one and its small team of local staff – one of whom, only recently hired, was himself a past beneficiary of the organisation’s support.
So, when Declan heard that I was running the Rome marathon on 23 March 2014 and asked if I’d mind trying to make it a fundraising event for just-one, it did not even take me a minute to decide that I would do it, as I have always had very high regard for his work and been mightily impressed with his patience, commitment, passion and love for the children the organisation works with.
For this reason, it would be absolutely wonderful if could join me in lending some support to Declan’s ongoing work with just-one through every one of my many steps across 42.195 km of cobblestones in Rome on Sunday March 23rd.
Keep on running! 🙂
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