Mary’s Meals works with communities in some of the world’s most impoverished areas to set up and 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. 1,230,171 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 7,500 chronically hungry children in Malawi. It costs just £13.90 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.
Fatsileni from Malawi explains, “Sometimes we haven’t eaten in days, so my tummy aches and I feel weak. I couldn’t concentrate in school before and would have to go home,” Earlier this year, we were able to start serving Mary’s Meals in Fatsileni’s primary school for the first time. She tells us joyfully: “Now Mary’s Meals is at school and we can eat in the morning! It is such a big relief for my parents. They know I have had something to eat in the day.” Without a daily meal in their place of education girls like Fatsileni and all of those enrolled in schools supported by the quadrathlon are much less likely to go to school. Mary’s Meals is offering children in Malawi – and all over the world – hope for the future.
If you are anything like me, with less than two months to go until the quad, your mind will be on the impending physical challenge that we all will soon face. It is easy to forget in the midst of this challenge the reason why we signed up for The Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon – to raise money for two worthwhile charities. Along with the physical battle which we must overcome on the day we are also required to raise £450 each (in a team of two) towards Mary’s Meals and Mercy Corps. For two so-called professional fundraisers; Mary’s Meals team “Quadrophenia” has a lot to live up to!
Recently, Mary’s Meals launched our film Generation Hope online. This award-winning film tells the stories of some of the young people who received and enjoyed the benefits of Mary’s Meals as children and are now partof a new generation beginning to find its voice and build a brighter future.
We jumped at the chance to use Generation Hope to raise awareness of Mary’s Meals and our epic challenge by hosting a film night in our office. This was a fantastic opportunity to tell our colleagues some humiliating stories from our Loch Tay training sessions and show them the life changing difference that their donation can make.
To see the great work that Mary’s Meals does in 14 countries throughout the world, you can watch our film Generation Hope here.
With only two full months left to train for this year’s quad, our training is underway.
My teammate Joe has a big advantage in one of the disciplines and thinks he is quite the Bradley Wiggins… Joe has been steadily training for the gruelling 34-mile cycle since signing up for the quad
last September. Joe has said, ‘I am really looking forward to the cycling element of the quad. Cycling to work every day has not only been a great way to fit more training into my schedule but has also helped me to find a new lovefor the sport.’
I, on the other hand, have had to relearn how to ride a bike! After some failed attempts, scuffed knees and tantrums I am finally on the bike and training.
During this challenge, I was reminded of Dyson Chitdowe from our film Generation Hope. Dyson is our school feeding monitor in Malawi and uses a motorbike to visit the schools. Dyson is an orphan who once ate our meals at school. He is now employed by Mary’s Meals as a motorbike monitor, roaming the district to perform spot checks on the schools. Dyson says that it was Mary’s Meals that made him go to school.
“I am the only member of my family that has done well in life” he says, serious and articulate. “And now I am supportingthe rest of them. My brother is 17 and just starting Year Two; I also support
my sister and her two children. It’s a challenge for me but I love doing it.”
When children asked Dyson about his job he told them how they too must work hard so that they can have a job and ride around on a motorbike. “I’m a role model and I take it very seriously,” he
says. “It’s one of my favourite things about my job. This is our new generation of leaders. They are bound to make things better.”
Dyson has helped me to remember that the challenges I face in preparation for the quadrathlon this July are small incomparison to those faced by many in the countries where we work. Our struggles
in the next few months will not go unnoticed as we help to give 1,230,171 children a route out of poverty.
This month, the Mary’s Meals Quad team decided that instead of doing monotonous work outs at the gym we would find a way of training whilst also doing something worthwhile. This way we would not only be working hard but also doing good in the process.
Along with some enthusiastic volunteers, Joe and I both headed to the Mary’s Meals warehouse in Glasgow to load thousands of backpacks onto the Mary’s Meals container destined for Malawi. It was hard work but it was definitely worth it!
While loading the backpacks I thought about some of the children receiving Mary’s Meals and how they would enjoy their backpacks when they arrived. Some of the schools Mary’s Meals reaches are very remote and difficult to get to. St Peter’s Primary School is situated on Likoma Island which means that receiving their likuni phala (porridge) isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
Due to poor soil, Likoma Island has to import most of its food but the large ships cannot quite reach the mainland due to poor infrastructure. Large ships delivering food must be docked in a deeper part of the lake, further from the mainland, and small boats are then used to ferry the goods to land.
However, this doesn’t stop our incredible volunteers and parents on the island. They are always excited to see the ship arrive and they jump at the chance to be ferried to the bigger ship to collect the 20kg bags of likuni phala to deliver to St Peter’s Primary School where the children will receive a daily meal in their place of education.
Training for the Quad can be difficult, but knowing that our efforts are going to help children in the world’s poorest communities makes it so much easier!
Want to get an independent insight into the Quadrathlon? James Bingham completed the event in 2016 and produced a fantastic blog which can be found here.
If you have not tried Kayaking before you need to make sure you gather some experience prior to the event. All participants will use 2 seater Malibu 2 kayaks (issued by the event). They sit low in the water so you are guaranteed to get a bit wet but its ideal to cool you down after completing the mountain phase of the run! For inexperienced kayakers, here are our top tips to get you started:
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
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:
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 don’t offer swim training but accommodation is available (depending on availability) in the Kindrochit Garden Flat