Dear reader, I gave this speech at the Path to Possibilities charity event on 8 February 2014. We are hoping to encourage you to sign up to our annual charity race on 5 July 2014 in London. If you haven’t got time to read the extract below please click on the attached video. If you are sympathetic to the charity’s cause please share this and sign up.
When I was younger I used to look into the mirror and cry. I remember so vividly what that mirror looked like. I remember the colour. I remember the intricate details of the frame. I would come back from school, survey the house, sit in front of the mirror and start to cry. I would cry because there was no food. And I knew that when my mum came back from work there would still be no food. There was just no money for food.
Sometimes my husband will say “didn’t you watch Mr T when you were growing up, didn’t you watch incredible hulk, and I will just shake my head and say no. But what I really should say is “look we didn’t have a TV in the one bedroom bed sit that I shared with my 4 siblings and mom”. Now this is the point at which some of you will say oh wow you really did well for yourself!! but it’s important for you to pause and think how I and my siblings managed it. We managed it through the help of family, friends and strangers. These people gave my mom money and food,. They also used their connection to get my sisters and me into good schools. We are educated today because people like you, who can afford to make a difference, made the difference.
Education has given me the tools to articulate myself and to express my opinions without apology. My degrees have opened opportunities for me. I earn a decent wage in a career of my own choosing. If I lose my husband like my mother did, I will be in a better position to fend for my children. But besides these personal gains, I am most proud that education has given me the skills and tools to start this charity. In my own way I can make a difference. But I can’t make a difference without your support. Every year since 2010 we have hosted Race for Change. This 5 and 10k race is an opportunity for you to help people like me. Children from similar and poorer backgrounds. Children who may be crying in front of mirrors because they are hungry.
Every year we ask you to run for these children to help us raise money to educate them. The first year of the race we got 40 people to run, the second year we got 30, last year we had about 25. And of those 25 only about 15 actively raised money for us. Let’s pause on the number. 15 people. We are a charity that has been consistently working hard, showing you the difference we are making, and we only managed to get 15 of you to actively fundraise at the race. In 2011 I told myself that we just needed to work harder, that I and the team need to convince you, build our reputation, and build your trust. But more importantly show you the difference our work is making. I believe we are doing that, but still we get very few sign ups.
But then when the race season comes round, I see that more and more of you have signed up to Race for Life, Save the Children, and every other charity out there but not this one charity close to home. And although my head tells me that different charities will spike the different interest of different people – and logically I understand this because I too ran for Race for Life, and I still give to Oxfam, because these charities are close to my heart too, but 25 sign up? Let me be provocative. Could part of the problem be that you don’t want to take part in a charity race for Nigerians because you don’t want to have to answer questions from your friends and colleagues about Nigeria or poverty or whether this charity is 419. Perhaps you doubt the sincerity of this charity. If charity begins at home why are we struggling to get the support needed despite the millions of Nigerians here in the UK and the millions of children in need at home? Yes we still need to work harder at convincing and engaging you, but when will you begin to meet us half way? Last year those 15 people helped us raise £11,000, just 15 people, our best race ever! that money has sustained us throughout the year. It has paid for all the fees, food, accommodation books, and part of our project. We need you to make it happen this year. Whether you raise £50 or £100, just stand with us on the 5th of July, that in itself is important. Tell that little girl in the mirror that she is worth it. email firstname.lastname@example.org and say you are in! www.pathtopossibilities.co.uk Facebook@ Path to Possibilities