Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On Faisal and Fundraising

I've currently reached 103% of my slightly squiggled target and I'm delighted with it - not because of the target aspect, which was a bit arbitrary at best, but because of the kindness and generosity of so many people which have allowed me to raise £395 for the Refugee Council to date. Really, a deep and resounding thank you to everyone who has donated. If you haven't done so yet.....please do.....the Refugee Council needs your support to provide vital services to refugees and asylum seekers in the U.K. You can give here:

Fundraising is a rather funny thing if you think about it - through doing something difficult people give you money to give to someone else. Perhaps there's something to do with the northern Scottish Calvinistic ideas of suffering and austere giving which made this so popular when I was a kid, anyone remember TRA sponsored walks, they were the shit.... Getting 600 grumpy teenagers to march up Tain Hill and resist the urge to light up a fag behind one of the pine trees was a Herculean effort on the part of my high school teachers. Respect. 

Tain Hill, looking rather more lovely than I remember it....

I've been reading a lot about children and young people entering the U.K. as asylum seekers, the Refugee Council published an execellent report entitled 'Not a Minor Offence: Children Locked up as Part of the Asylum Process'. To accompany this they made a short film with the help of Faisal, a 15 year old asylum seeker from Afghanistan. His story highlights the fact that the U.K. still detains children, some of whom have been through shocking and horrific experiences. If you have time, please watch his story.   


All children and young people have the right to live in peace and safety, they have the right to an education, to people who support and care for them and the right to live in freedom. While we may have moaned whilst walking up Tain Hill, young people like Faisal and young refugees all over the world face a constant battle to live a life in peace and safety. 

On another note - the very lovely Oscar and Lieneke are running in the Dam tot Dam to raise money for Fair Food, an NGO which supports sustainable and fair food growth and supply.  If you have any extra euros you can sponsor them here

Monday, August 20, 2012

On holiday running

I've just got back from holiday in western France, which was pretty awesome and I managed to do some holiday running while I was there. Holiday running seems to be a specific subset of running which involves getting up at a silly time to run through truly beautiful landscapes. In France I ran through vinyards and across sandy island beaches. It made a nice change to running through the Vondelpark, but I missed my normal route - is that weird? We saw drank wine and cider, ate cheese, made very complicated meals using a Primus stove, went to a scandalous music festival and made friends with a cat. So it was indeed a bit lazy and so now I have to get back into Rocky style training big style. This is Ro who harbored illusions of stealing said cat and taking him back to Paris with her. 

Suddenly returning to the Netherlands during a 'tropical' heatwave has been a bit of a shock, so I haven't been running for a few days. In 31C city heat, the only thing I've been able to do is sit around in my knickers and sweat. But today I'm heading off to the swimming pool and then for an evening run. 

I'm running for the Refugee Council in September (which is next month eeek) I'm currently at 96% of my fundraising total - so please dig deep. It's a wonderful organisation which helps some of the U.K's most vulnerable people. You can donate here 

Oh and happy Eid everyone!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Strijders voor de liefde

If you speak Dutch and live in the Netherlands, watch this documentary. It's about the acceptance and persecution of gay people in the Netherlands and in other countries. It's very well made and touching. Also around half the documentary is in English with Dutch subtitling.

The story of David who is now in an asylum seekers centre awaiting a decision on refugee status after being persecuted for being gay in Jamaica. His story reminded me of how important human rights are, and that both love and asylum are essential human rights.

Watch it!

On running through raindrops or Schotse hardlopen

Today I woke up and thought to myself - what a lovely day, the sun is shining, there's a slight breeze - perfect conditions for a run in the park. But of course I fannied around for about two hours, packing  and half watching the Olympics. So when I eventually put on my running kit (that which is not yet packed) and headed out, the dark clouds had begun to roll in. By the time I got to the Dutch-Turkish friendship bridge it had begun to rain. Oh how I laughed at the people cycling by with there umbrellas up. Oh how I laughed out the other side of my face when I got to the Vondelpark and the heavens opened. Like any sensible person I sought shelter, for about 5 minutes, until I got terribly bored (and was still getting a bit wet under the trees) and began to run further. Through a thunder and lightening storm. For a portion of the time I tried to pretend I was a super Buddhist monk/Usain Bolt and I could run between the raindrops, until I realised that all my clothing was soaked through. Still, at least rain cools you down and so it made the run a bit nicer.

Well, there you go - my first rain running experience (I'm suprised I lasted this long here in Amsterdam). 

I think that's some kind of dedication/stupidity that deserves sponsorship - so if you haven't given, please do. 

Here's a picture of me soaking wet, with what my father would describe as 'a soor face'.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

On things I see when I'm running.....the Amsterdam Gay Pride Parade

After a terribly disappointing and not fun at all, run yesterday, I had a spiffing run today and felt like I was going a bit faster than normal - that may, however, be a self fabrication.

What made the run even spiffinger was when I got back home I managed to catch the end of the Gay Pride March on their way past the Homomonument and onwards to the Dam. Despite the rubbish weather during the afternoon, the skies had cleared and it was perfect parade weather.

Many people seek asylum in the U.K, the Netherlands and in many other countries due to persecution for their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Homomonument in Amsterdam West was erected in memorial to the gay men and women who were persecuted under the Nazi regime but serves to remind us of all people who have been persecuted because of their sexual orientation.


Enjoy Gay Pride 2012 Amsterdam!