Brendan's run through Malawi touches the community
With an army of children and villagers behind him, Brendan Rendall has completed his challenge of running the length of Malawi.
The 37-year-old ran 708 miles - the equivalent of 27 marathons in 27 days - in aid of Walmer Bridge-based charity Friends of Mulanje Orphans (FOMO).
He was also supported by Emma Timmis, 32, who cycled the route with him and he was joined by The British High Commissioner Michael Nevin for 5km, as well as the Mayor Noel Chalamanda.
Their combined efforts have raised £26,000 which will go towards building a school block, with two science labs, an art room and classroom, in one of the villages.
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Brendan, an ambassador for the Ordnance Survey UK’s The Get Outside campaign, said: “We set off on June 29 from Chitipa on the Zambia border in the North West and finished in the south, Marka in the Nsanje region on the Mozambique border.
“Malawi is just so beautiful. The highlights were the children that joined us along the way. Each morning children would just start running with me as they went to school - their smiles and happiness for life will stay with me for ever, but also kept me going.
“I’d start running at 5am. I would run half a marathon, have breakfast, then run the other half with a small break. Most days the running was completed by 10.30am to beat the heat, as the afternoons got quite hot.
“The afternoons would be spent playing with the children at the schools where we camped, giving out footballs and kit that were kindly donated by KitAid.
“Being in Malawi has taught me so much. It been so life changing to witness that level of poverty. No one chooses where or what you are born into. I can’t get my head around how some people have more opportunities than others - so many of the children that ran with me were so young and clearly were talented runners.”
One of the people who touched Brendan’s heart was 12-year-old Ganizani, who could not walk and was unable to attend school.
After speaking with the FOMO team, he was able to donate a wheelchair and school clothing to his family.
Brendan, who lives in Salford Quays, added: “I want to say a special thanks to everyone that’s donated so far and to the FOMO team who were fantastic and made this adventure so successful.
“Together we’ve created something special - education is so important and I hope this run has inspired others to make a difference.
“Our target is £35,000 so we have a little way to go but we are getting there - I hope people are inspired to donate whatever they can afford.”
Gillian Coxhead, chairman of FOMO Trustees, said: “Brendan is a wonderful man who set out on a personnel challenge.
“Every day is a challenge for children in Malawi. Brendan, as well as raising much need funds to build the secondary school science block, has set a wonderful example. He has given them hope, shown them how much people care about them, that nothing is impossible with determination and hard work we can achieve our goals in life.”
To donate, visit http://www.justgiving.com/helpfomo35 or text donate FOMO99 £1 - £10 70070.