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A Norfolk marathon at 75 for hungry Africans  

Having recently celebrated his seventy-fifth birthday, Peter Nicholls is training for a marathon to raise funds for communities in Zambia and Zimbabwe impacted by Covid-19. Here he explains what motivated him to go into training.

At the end of August I’ll be walking a marathon for Mission Direct. Having been to Zambia and Zimbabwe with Mission Direct in 2018 and 2019, I've seen the power of direct connections to individuals and partners on the ground. Money really does get through, 100%. Those who have been gain a real empathy for situations and people they meet, and those visited are hugely encouraged by the interest and love they are shown.
These African countries are badly affected by lockdowns imposed because of coronavirus. Few people can go to work, so in an economy that is truly hand-to-mouth for many, they can't afford to buy food. And it's hard for growers and traders to get food to market anyway. Life is increasingly about survival. 
Money sent from the developed world is hugely important in these situations. According to the Zambia Country Manager for Mission Direct, Garden Hill School in Kumbaya was last month able to give half pay to four of their seven teachers and nothing to the remaining three.
Mission Direct has been able to send funds to Kumbaya and Crown of Life Schools for their lunchtime feeding programme. As well as feeding grades seven and nine who come for classes, they are feeding about 150 other pupils who come on the days they are serving lunch.
In Zimbabwe hyperinflation is rendering local currency relatively worthless and the very poor are struggling to buy food. The charity has had to change its plans for supplying meals so that the food bank does not run out.
I've never been a long-distance runner and suspect my body wouldn't thank me for trying now. But I reckon I could train and walk 26.2 miles in a day, using Norfolk footpaths for most of it, in late August. 
Not quite a herculean Captain Sir Tom effort, but will you stand with me to help the poorest? I did my second 16 miles on 11 August and am planning 20 next weekend. Pretty tiring, but the legs are holding up.
Walking footpaths is much harder work than roads. Weather permitting, the date for the marathon is Saturday August 29.
If 50 people were willing to give £50 each, that would get me almost to my target of £2620 (which would be £100 a mile). If £50 is too much for you, then, as the supermarket says, every little helps.
Peter Nicholls lives in Hethel in Norfolk. If you would like to sponsor him, you can do so on www.justgiving.com/fundraising/peters-26-challenge1360
Pictured above is Peter Nicholls.


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