Friendship not Flowers

This time I am not writing about flowers, and I think when I explain where I have been this week you will understand why.
When my husband, Billy, decided to organise a marathon and half marathon in rural Rwanda to raise funds for his charity, Msaada - who was the first to sign up? My best friend Pip. Now that is what I call friendship!
I once read an article written by a woman whose bestfriend had died. She described how little people appeared to understand the depths of her grief as she was not a named relative of the woman who died. As I read this I felt a cold chill come over me - with a best friend like Pip, I understood how precious that relationship can be.
We met on our first night at university, and now, many, many years on she was standing on the starting line with 100 other runners (including the Rwandan national marathon team!). What a woman!
As the runners gathered for the first Msaada Marathon (it went so well and was so much fun - there will be others) there were 10 Brits taking part. Fathers ran with sons, friends with friends.
And Pip waved at every child she saw - which was quite an achivement in itself!
The course took runners off the tarmac roads on to the red dust roads that meander through the Rwandan countryside.
People came out of their houses to cheer the runners on,
and sometimes just to stare in disbelief!
Rwanda is known as the land of a thousand hills
and the course had quite a few examples in it.
Supporters had travelled over to help man the water stops and count the runners out and in.
The long steep climb to the finishing line.
I was anxiously waiting at the finishing line for Pip. When she came around the last bend she was surrounded by a gang of children who were cheering her on her way.
They had run the last 3 miles with her - bare foot or in flip flops.
She said she couldn't have done it without them.
Did I cry? Of course I did. I was just so very proud of her.
There are so many fantastic memories of the week - not only the run, but all the people who came from England to take part where able to visit the projects and people that Msaada supports.
Msaada's belief is in dignity through self sufficiency. Their projects help Rwandan's to be able to take care of their families, in the way we would want to ourselves. Sharing the experience of running together was just another way of demonstrating that we want to help, but we will do it together - with people who are fast becoming our friends.

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