(MENAFN- Khaleej Times)
Published: Wed 28 Sep 2022, 7:05 AM
A group of over five dozen people braved the heat and humidity of Dubai to walk for 60 kilometres across Dubai to raise funds to build a school in Africa. The group were joined by over 200 other international participants who completed similar 60km walks in their hometowns of New York, Canada, Poland and Mexico in solidarity for their mission.
This is the eighth year that the group of friends are doing this walk.“We have built seven schools across Africa, Nicaragua and Haiti and one house for the homeless in Mexico since we began in 2014,” said Linoy Kidd, whose brainchild the project is.“Over 2500 children study in the schools we have built in Malawi, Senegal, Haiti and Nicaragua.
What started off as a company project run by just four people kept going even after many of them moved jobs and countries. Now christened Infusion100, the group continues to raise funds globally throughout the year to help in the running of the schools they have built and to keep building schools in the region.“Once there is the structure of a school and it's equipped with furniture, the governments in the region will send teachers to the school,” said Kidd.“So, when we build a school, we are in effect changing the lives of a lot of people in that area.”
For Linoy, who works as the MSS CIO at HSBC in the UAE, the project means a lot on a personal level.“My grandmother was Kurdish. She was illiterate and she struggled to escape the cycle of poverty,” she said. So, I want to make sure that as many children in the world have access to education and they can get ahead in life, as my education changed mine.”
This is the third time the group is doing the walk in Dubai. Before the pandemic, they have walked in London, Mexico and other parts of the world.“In 2020 we did 30km, last year we did 50km and this year 60km,” said Paul Winick, who was one of the original four that started the project.“This is the first time we are doing it so early in the year and the heat was completely exhausting.”
Starting at HSBC headquarters in Downtown, the group walked around the boulevard to Kite Beach and then headed to Dubai Marina before finishing at La Mer. Out of the 60 people that started, only nine were able to complete the walk.“Many people dropped out because of the heat and dehydration,” said Linoy. She, along with her friends completed a rigorous six-month training program in the lead up to the walk to train for it.
When the company they worked at asked them to pitch ideas for a project that had a positive impact, it was Linoy who suggested the idea of building schools. When the project was accepted that approved, she, her colleague Paul and two others were asked to travel to Malawi to oversee the building of the school there in 2014.
“That year, we walked 100 kilometers in London,” said Paul.“When we arrived in Malawi, two of us men stayed with the family of a little girl called Bessie while the two ladies stayed with another family in the village.”
For Paul, life felt like it had come a full circle when earlier this year he went back to Malawi and found Bessie in the same school that he had helped build in 2014.“All these years, we just knew were building schools for the children,” he said.“This year, it felt quite personal and has given us the energy to do more.”
The group work with an NGO called Build On to find villages that require schools and finding the land to build them on.
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