On the 6th of November 2016, our trustee and newsletter editor Jenny Cosgrave will be running the New York Marathon – her first marathon – and we are delighted she has decided to use this opportunity to raise funds for us at the same time.
In 2009 Jenny volunteered to help the team in Kindwitwi to develop their IT and English language skills and she says it had a profound effect on her.
“To this day I think of the people I met and worked with in the village,” she says. “It seems outrageous that a young person’s access to education in Tanzania is further limited because their mother or father had leprosy, but it happens.”
When she finished volunteering, Jenny, who currently lives in Mexico City where she works as a Programme Manager for the British Council, decided to come on board as a trustee. “RLT stands side by side with the community in Kindwitwi as they continue to find ways to improve their lives and ultimately to give their children opportunities they never had,” she points out.
“In 2015 I had a baby; it was a difficult pregnancy and I was essentially ordered to bed for 4 months. The months following the birth were also tough and I was only able to start exercising again once our son was around 6 months old. It was at that point that I decided it was time to fulfil a life ambition, run a marathon,” she says. “When the opportunity came up to take part in one of the world’s most famous marathon events, I jumped at the chance.”
Jenny says exercise has always been an important part of her life.
“Don’t get me wrong, I am no athlete but I always enjoyed the mental space that running around the parks of London gave me. I also enjoy the discipline that it takes and in particular seeing how far I could push myself…can I make it to that next tree? Am I really able to get back across Chelsea Bridge or make it up that final, terrible hill that is Latchmere road? Running, therefore is important for me and continues to be so here in Mexico City (although these days I stick to the gym given that this is one of the most polluted cities on the planet),” she says.
The training so far has been somewhat challenging.
“I have been injured, I have a young son and a full time job! There have been lots of 5 a.m. training sessions and pushing the buggy up and down hills while my son looks on, rather confused by why mummy is so red in the face!” she says.
“Having a child and coming through all the challenges this entails has probably made the physical side of the training slower but having our son in my life has made me more passionate, more motivated and more determined to achieve everything I possibly can in my life and that brings me to the work of the Rufiji Leprosy Trust.”
And although she says her injury may mean she will run one of the slowest times ever, she is spurred on by the locals. “I often hear cries of encouragement such as, ‘hechale ganas guerra’- roughly translated as ‘you can do it blondy!’ when I’m out running,” says Jenny. “It’s great to hear when I’m pounding the pavements.”
“On the 6th of November I will be fulfilling a personal ambition but I will also be reaffirming my commitment to Rufiji and particularly to the community in Kindwitwi. I hope you will join me in that endeavour.”