We all remember the inspirational Yusra Mardini: the 18-year-old Syrian refugee who competed in the 2016 Olympic Games. Despite adangerous journey from Syria to Germany, where she swam for her life in Greek
coastal waters, Yusra continued her passion for swimming and became a member of the Refugee Olympic Athletes Team.
It is girls like Yusra that Mercy Corps aims to support. Mercy Corps is a leading global organisation, working in over 40 countries, powered by the belief that a better world is possible. Our team has mounted one of the largest responses to the crisis in Syria, impacting the lives of more than 7.4 million people since 2012.
With your fundraising from the Quad, we can continue our work to help people across the world to reach their full potential. We hope that Yusra’s story will inspire you not only to fundraise, but to train hard for your Quad swim. Mercy Corps looks forward to seeing you in the waters of Loch Tay in July 2017!
Introducing this year’s Mary’s Meals Quad team, Quadrophenia!
After volunteering at the Quad last year, Joe and I decided to sign up for the 2017 event. After all, how hard can it be?
Now the excitement has finally settled in, the size of the challenge has started to hit home. “Athletic” isn’t the word I would use to describe our team, so many hours of training will be required for to get us into ship shape!
We decided to have a look over the challenging Quad route and hit a stumbling block at thevery first hurdle, Joe can’t swim! Thankfully, at the time of writing and after lots of training, Joe can now swim 20 lengths and has a new found love for the water! Hopefully this means we will be able to make our journey across Loch Tay in July.
However, it is important to remember that this small challenge pales in comparison to the daily challenges faced by children in in the world’s poorest communities, where hunger and poverty prevent children from gaining an education.
By taking part in the UK’s toughest outdoor sporting event we are giving hope to children throughout the world by providing one daily meal in a place of education. I promise that the pain and struggle of being a Quadrathlete is definitely worth it!
It is thanks to your fundraising, that we are able to feed 880,383 children in Malawi. Mary’s Meals is now reaching 1,187,104 children globally. On behalf of all the children receiving Mary’s Meals, thank you.
It would be great to hear on the Quad Facebook page any challenges you’ve come against and how you managed to overcome them.
I look forward to updating you on our progress next month.
Lucy, Mary’s Meals Fundraising Support Officer and one half of Team Quadrophenia
It goes without saying that swimming in a pool is very different to open water swimming. To begin with the open water is colder, darker and you don’t have nice blue lines to follow! Here are a few key swim skills from a past participant and experienced Triathlete on how to make the swim a little less daunting!
When swimming in open water races you need to make sure you are swimming in a straight line, the shortest route. To ensure this you need to practice sighting. Sight an immovable object on the skyline e.g. a building, tree or landmark, not a moving object like a boat! If water conditions are calm and you can sight the changing tent from distance then even better! Every 8 to 10 arm pulls glance quickly up as you breathe, sight your object then carry on.
This is breathing on both sides as opposed to just one – unilateral. This is important so you can see what is going on all around you. The swim is a straight line course with no buoys to go around but its essential to know where your fellow swimmers are to avoid clashing arms and feet. Practice this in training by breathing every 3 or 5 arm pulls.
To do this you swim right behind a swimmer and use their speed to carry you along, it takes practice though. You will conserve energy (as you do on a bike) because the swimmer in front is breaking the water in front of them and you move through water that is already moving, which is easier.
Front crawl is the most efficient stroke. If swimming is not your strength and you would rather do breaststroke, don’t panic, you will not be alone! There’s no shame in being able to keep your eyes on the target and compare notes with your teammate. Remember you have 60 minutes to complete the 0.8 mile swim.
Try Open Water:
The more time you can spend swimming in open water in your wetsuit the better. It also helps get used to the temperature difference between a pool and a loch! There are opportunities to swim in open water across the country so no matter where you live, contact your nearest lido, triathlon club, swimming pool or have a look online! If you would like to practise in Loch Tay, from Kindrochit, give us a call or send an email. We offer swim training and accommodation is available (depending on availability) in the Kindrochit Garden Flat
Registration for the 2017 Event is now open.
The Difference Mercy Corps and Mary’s Meals are Making
On behalf of the thousands of vulnerable people you are helping the across the world, we would like to thank you. Your fundraising means that Mercy Corps and Mary’s Meals are able to reach out to those suffering both hardship and disaster, giving the resource necessary so they may work their way out of poverty and into hope.For more than 30 years, Mercy Corps has believed in the power of people to transform their own lives. We work in more than 40 countries and know that unlocking opportunity for people in crisis is the most effective way to build up communities and permanent paths out of poverty.Your fundraising will change lives. Thank you for taking one small step (or thousands of steps on the Quad!) to help people step up out of crisis.
Inside Syria, Mercy Corps is reaching around 570,000 people every month with critical support like food, water and hygiene supplies. Despite the ongoing conflict, our teams continue to help people cope amidst war. Here and in the neighbouring countries of Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon, Mercy Corps is reaching over 4 million people – including the communities struggling to host them – with long term support such as education, psychosocial support and employment support.
In Europe, in Greece and across the mainland transit routes, we are able to help people on the move, desperately seeking safety by helping them access the information they need to make decisions about what steps to make next and what services are available to help them.
Because of you – no matter what or where the crisis may be– Mercy Corps is able to help families be independent and not dependant. Dignity. Choice. Autonomy. Your fundraising helps us give these vital things back to those in crisis.
Mary’s Meals works with communities in some of the world’s most impoverished areas to set upand deliver school feeding programmes that provide one nutritious daily meal in a place of education for hungry children where children so often miss school because of hunger and poverty. 1,101,206 children receive Mary’s Meals around the world, as well as their teachers,families, and wider communities. Thanks to the commitment and fundraising efforts of Quad competitors Mary’s Meals is able to provide vital support to over 7,600 chronically hungry children in Malawi. It costs just £12.20 to feed a child with Mary’s Meals for a whole school year and we are committed to spending at least 93p of every £1 donated directly on our charitable activities.
Ben is ten years old and from Malawi. When his father died, his mother struggled to find food for the family, he recalls often going to bed hungry and never having breakfast. However, since he started receiving Mary’s Meals, his studies have improved and he has more energy. Ben says, “Since Mary’s Meals, I no longer concentrate on my problems as I am able to enjoy my studies in class. My vision is to build a better house for my family and look after my mother.”
You are giving a gift of hope to Ben and children just like him.
We have some handy hints and tips that can help you with your fundraising, please click here to find out how to Fundraise in a Day!
Thank you so much for all the effort you have put into participating in the Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon and for supporting Mercy Corps and Mary’s Meals. Together, we are making a difference.
Best of luck.
How many steps will you take on the Quad itself? Millions it might feel like! At Mercy Corps our belief in empowering people to take their own steps towards a brighter future underpins all of our work worldwide. In particular, we see youth as key change-makers in their lives and the lives of those around them – especially in times of crisis. Rather than viewing youth as troublemakers or as a demographic challenge, we believe in the positive power of youth – in their ability to enable their countries to stride forward, socially, politically and economically. Watch this video to inspire you to make some great strides yourself!
Louise Henderson and Mairead MacRae (accompanied by loyal mascot Louie the dog!) from the Mary’s Meals Quad Team, ‘May the Quads be ever in our favour’ have stepped up their training to prepare for the gruelling 34-mile cycle.
Louise tells us, “Cycling is the sport I am really looking forward to in the Quad. I’ve been taking advantage of the sunny weather at the weekends and have done a few rides to Edinburgh along the Clyde and Union canal. I also cycle to work every day which is a good way of squeezing extra training into my schedule.”
Mairead, on the other hand, has been concentrating on the other disciplines because she is waiting for her shiny new road bike to arrive. Mairead said: “I can’t wait for my new bike to arrive, my old one fell apart, thankfully before I got to the Quad and not during!”
The two have planned some joint training after Mairead’s bike arrives. Mairead told us, “Hopefully, we can get up to practice on the cycle route at Loch Tay. It is a beautiful part of Scotland but I’m not sure how much I’ll take in after 34 miles of cycling! It will all be worth it in the end, especially because I know that my fundraising will make a huge difference to Mary’s Meals.”
“It’s amazing that Mary’s Meals is helping 1,101,206 of the world’s poorest children with a daily meal in school, where they will gain an education that can be their route out of poverty.”
“When we first came here, our children had trauma from the war and bombing. My son was isolated, not playing with other kids. I had to convince him to come and participate in the activities here. At first he didn’t want to, but after a few days, he came alive again.”
I’m standing in the new Mercy Corps ‘Knowledge Centre’ in Sareeh, Jordan, and listening as a local Syrian lady tells us about her 8 year old son.
I didn’t really know what to expect before coming on this trip. In my naivety I guess I thought that helping Syrian Refugees meant providing food, water and shelter. Which is vital of course, and emergency aid is a large part of what Mercy Corps does (very well I might add). But what I’ve discovered is that it’s their longer term approach and their emphasis on sustainable development that makes Mercy Corps’ work so special, empowering local people with the tools to rebuild their lives as best they can.
The Knowledge Centre is an example of Mercy Corps’ Social Cohesion work; it’s a safe space where people can come and take part in training courses such as life skills or computer classes, get involved in workshops, or simply use the games room. The children can enrol in extra-curricular activities or catch-up classes, as many will have missed large chunks of their education. It’s a space that brings people together, and helps refugees integrate into their host communities. Because something I also hadn’t realised is that 80% of the estimated 1.3 million refugees in Jordan don’t live in camps, they’re part of these communities, and competing with the Jordanians on rent, water resources, and electricity, in an already strained infrastructure. Similarly in Lebanon every school does a double shift, Lebanese children in the morning and Syrians in the afternoon. There simply isn’t enough space for all of them. It’s not hard to see how tensions arise.
Mercy Corps works with Community Leaders, giving them the conflict resolution skills they need to solve disputes. At the same time the Community Leaders feed back to Mercy Corps what the community needs. In Eidoun, they built a women’s gym - the only one in an area of 50,000 people - providing health and fitness training, and a support network; forging friendships between Jordanian and Syrian women where previously there had only been a suspicion that these newcomers would steal their husbands. In Sakura it was a football pitch, where the most important division was not which country you came from, but which team you were on. In another village we even heard about a group of boys who had to draw a picture together, each taking it in turns to add one stroke. Soon these boys claimed they were reading each other’s minds, their differences forgotten.
But more than helping to build communities, these projects and activities are incredibly important for providing psychosocial support, particularly to young people. Stressful situations cause us to release a hormone called cortisol, which helps prepare our bodies for ‘fight or flight’. Useful in the short term if you need to outrun a bear, but in situations of chronic stress these elevated cortisol levels interact with the emotional circuits in our brain, and cause them to shut down. It kind of makes sense defensively, if you can’t feel anything then at least you won’t be overwhelmed by sadness or fear. But you also struggle to feel happiness, to express emotion, or to feel empathy for others.
These programs provide a way for Mercy Corps to help children re-engage with their feelings through a subtle ‘atunement’ approach. It’s about connecting your head with your heart. Every course session the teachers dedicate some time to self-reflection and positive coping practices, exploring questions such as what do I want to be, who are my friends, what makes me angry, and who are my safe people to talk to. I also really saw the power of art for helping people to express their emotions. A beautiful example was how at the start of any program the kids were asked to draw a picture about how they felt. Most drew images of war and conflict. But two months later, as their program finished, they drew smiling faces and images of play.
Nowhere was this more evident than at Zaatari camp, home to 80,000 refugees. With a bus system, 12 schools, and its very own champs de elysee, it felt more like a town then an informal settlement. But it was still just a sea of temporary box-like structures, overwhelmingly white and grey. Yet walking into the Mercy Corps extracurricular room, my senses were assaulted with the wealth of colour and creativity inside. Sculptures made from trash, paintings that covered the walls, the vibrant energy reminded me that this is what every child should have, a striking contrast to the bleakness of what they were actually growing up in. I was so glad Mercy Corps could provide spaces like this.
It has been a very special experience witnessing the work that Mercy Corps do, and I still haven’t told you the half of it! We saw WASH projects - that stands for Water Health and Sanitation - delivering water, piloting greener latrines, and renovating facilities in schools that would have otherwise been closed down. We learnt about their INTAJ program - Improving Networks Training and Jobs - helping small businesses to expand in order to tackle unemployment. One textile factory owner said that although his business nearly 30 years old, with Mercy Corps he felt he’d had a fresh start, and by the end of the year he’d have gone from 25 employees to 52! Their home kitchen program teaches people how to grow their own vegetables and eat a balanced diet, as aid food is high in calories but low in nutrients. Everyone we met was so dedicated to helping their country, from the volunteers who drove an hour each day to work at Zaatari camp, to the local Mercy Corps staff whose passion for their projects was contagious. Next to their work my own job at home seemed self-centred and inadequate. But at least I had helped in some small way, because without our fundraising, many of these projects would not exist.
Watch a short movie, which shows what Matilda did on her trip. Matilda visits Mercy Corps.
If you’re doing the quad this year, every penny you raise really will be changing lives. The quad is an incredible experience, and it supports an incredible cause. Good luck to you all, and I hope you smash those fundraising targets. It’s truly worth it.