Joe, one half of Team Quadrophenia from Mary’s Meals, has been hill training to ensure he’s ready to tackle the seven Munros he will face on the 8th of July. He reflects on this challenge and the challenge facing those Mary’s Meals strives to reach.
‘Everyone at Mary’s Meals has been really supportive of us taking on the Great Quad. Not only have our colleagues helped us with our fundraising efforts, but some have taken it a step further and joined us on our training.
Along with some friends at Mary’s Meals we decided to climb Ben Vrackie (2,757ft) near Pitlochry very early on a brisk Saturday morning, which seemed like a great idea at the time. We didn’t feel all that fresh when we first started the climb but a few hours breathing in the clear Scottish air certainly changed that.
We finally reached the top and, while spirits were high, we were exhausted.
It made me think back to a story from Mary’s Meals’ new award winning film Generation Hope.
A few years ago, we were asked to begin feeding at a school in a remote village in Southern Malawi situated at the top of Chaone Mountain, standing more than 1000 metres above sea level. There was no road up the mountainside, and therefore Mary’s Meals would be unable to transport the food to the school. The villagers were undeterred: they would carry the food to the summit.
In the film a woman named Elby grins into the camera as she hauls three bags of likuni phala – a collective weight of 60kg – onto her head. She balances the load as she joins a chain of women beginning the difficult ascent to the peak. As the women arrive at the school, teachers lead their pupils in celebration; a welcoming song and dance for Mary’s Meals and the news that the children of Chaone will now receive a daily mug of likuni phala (a vitamin-enriched maize porridge) in school.
By taking part in the Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon and fundraising for Mary’s Meals you truly are transforming lives.
The women of Chaone Mountain stop halfway through their hard climb for a well-earned break but they still continue to smile and dance… and they look a lot better than we did halfway through our climb! One of the ladies explains their cheerful approach to the task ahead, she says: “Walking this path is indeed rough. But we are motivated knowing that each long journey begins with a single step.”
Team Quadrophenia, Mary’s Meals
Many say the mountain phase is the toughest and most vital section of the Quad. Whether you run or walk, it will be both a mental and physical challenge.
Imagine having to climb up mountain terrain everyday just to go to work.
This is the life of Carlos Vicente – a snow pea farmer in Guatemala. Carlos’ fields perch precariously on the side of a steep hill, an hour’s hike up a dusty trail.
About 80 percent of the snow peas consumed in the United States are grown in Guatemala. Small farmers like Carlos tend to grow maize and beans to feed their families for part of the year, and then plant a crop like snow peas to sell for extra income.
But new regulations going into effect soon could keep Carlos and other small farmers out of the valuable US market. When the new rules take effect, any produce imported to the US, including Carlos’ snow peas, must be traceable back to the field where it was grown – regardless of whether it is on the side of a mountain.
Farmers like Carlos are often poor, and many can’t read – because of these challenges, it would be nearly impossible for them to comply with the new regulations on their own. To be shut out of selling their peas in the US would be disastrous for these families.
In order to help these farming communities thrive, Mercy Corps has partnered with an exporter to introduce new tracking software, called Farmforce, to the growers. After farming the peas, a guide from Carlos’ farming cooperative group arrives and puts all the information about the work he’s just done into Carlos’ Farmforce profile on a smartphone. He records what was planted and marks the GPS coordinates. As the peas grow, the software also tracks information about fertilizers and pesticides used.
Farmers then deliver their crop to be weighed and inspected closely to make sure it meets the exporter’s quality requirements. Each harvest is entered into the Farmforce software, and then each farmer’s snow peas are sent to the exporter to be shipped to the US.
Because of the Farmforce software, Carlos knows that he can keep growing snow peas, earning enough income to give his family a better future.
He’s proud of the way his community and the farming cooperative have risen to the challenge of new technology. “As an organisation, we’re doing things together. Whenever we do these things together, we succeed.”
As you take on the Munros of the Quad, know your fundraising is helping Mercy Corps partner with local communities to implement innovative projects that support people like Carlos.
15 miles, easy you might think, just a little more than half marathon? Throw in 7 Munro summits with a total of 7500 feet of ascent and it makes things a little more challenging! This makes it the toughest and longest section of the Quadrathlon. We have put together a few tips to assist your comfort and fitness on the hills: