In July 2018 Andrew Souter will run 100km in the race to the Stones to raise money for Bwindi Community Hospital through REACH Bwindi. Here he shares his story…
I have always been prone to the odd bout of insane foolhardiness and this year I have I’ve outdone myself – in July I shall be (hopefully) dragging, what’s left of my body, over the finish line of Race to the Stones – a 100km non-stop run along the oldest path in the UK, the Ridgeway.
Originally I decided to do this for “fun”, but as an inexperienced runner and a fragile man I’m sure the men in white coats would have something to say if “fun” was the sole motivator. As such, and in an attempt to prove that I am not a danger to myself or the wider community, I thought this might be a great opportunity to raise some money for a cause I care for dearly.
So my journey may end at the stone circle in Avebury, but it actually began more than 5,000 miles away, in Uganda.
Last year on Honeymoon, my wife and I visited the Bwindi Community Hospital in Uganda (I’m nothing if not romantic).
As we were shown round the hospital, by my friend Barnabas, I admit I became ashamed of my ignorance. I, of course, understood that healthcare provision in many countries can be challenging but visiting this community hospital allowed me, for the first time, to comprehend the scale of the challenge communities like Bwindi face. As we walked and talked I found out that most families survive here on less than $1 per day without electricity or running water. Simply put, if it wasn’t for this hospital even the most innocuous of illnesses could quickly become life threatening. The hospital provides critical healthcare: from maternity wards that for the first time enable babies to be delivered in a clean and safe environment; TB and HIV treatment services which have successfully reduced the prevalence of TB in the community by 50%; to the less obvious but equally important health related issues such as mental health clinics, epilepsy care and sexual and public health education.
My visit to Bwindi Community Hospital was a revelatory experience for me and I am now acutely aware of how fortunate I am to live in a society with free healthcare. If the community hospital did not exist then some people would conceivably need to travel over 100km to the nearest hospital. This is a distance I am aiming to run in July, but I won’t be critically ill or heavily pregnant or severely injured.
I am looking forward to the challenge of Race to the Stones but more than that, after 100km I am hoping to have contributed to something much more worthwhile than a couple of tired legs.
You can sponsor Andrew here: https://www.goundme.com/reachbwindiuganda