BY MARGARET KENYATTA
“Finally, we are in the month of April and the real countdown to the London Marathon begins!
It’s been a long journey, quite literally that started with a walk, turned into a little jog before we started running, and all for the future of our beloved country Kenya.
As you probably know by now, on April 13 I will run in the London Marathon for my ‘Beyond Zero’ charity, a campaign in which we are raising money to help stop the unnecessary, preventable maternal and early childhood deaths, and also raise awareness and get people involved in these efforts while keeping healthy at the same time.
The Beyond Zero campaign aims to address Kenya’s high maternal and child mortality, as well as HIV related conditions, especially mother-to-child HIV transmission. It aims to create a new momentum for action to end preventable deaths among mothers and children to beyond zero and giving new impetus to prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV.
We are raising funds to purchase 47 mobile clinics, one for each of our counties, but the efforts will not end after the purchase of these clinics. That is just a start as I understand that some counties need more than just one clinic.
The good news is that we are on target in our fund-raising efforts and I would like to thank all who have contributed to our kitty and those who continue to contribute alike in the true Kenyan spirit. Every shilling counts.
I was deeply touched by all of you who turned up for the inaugural First Lady’s Half Marathon last month, and this encouraged me not only to the finish line of the 21-kilometre race that day, but also inspired my dream to run the 42 kilometres at the London Marathon in just under two weeks’ time.
I will run to make a difference. I will run to raise awareness about the possibility of a healthy nation through elimination of HIV transmission from mothers to children and ensuring the survival of mothers and children.
Healthy citizens are the greatest asset Kenya can ever have and it’s a disturbing fact that we have an unacceptably high infant mortality rate.
I have said it before that it’s heartbreaking to see babies die from causes that can be prevented by improvement of infant care. It is time to intensify our efforts and mine begins with the ‘Beyond Zero’ campaign.
After weeks of training, I feel healthier now and I encourage everybody to run or do some exercise to get fit and reduce the risks of diabetes, high blood pressure and other illnesses.
I’d like to thank my coach, Kenyan marathon legend Douglas Wakiihuri, and my entire staff and team who have kept me going since I started my training into these last few days ahead of the race.
It’s been tough, and we have traversed the beautiful Kenyan landscapes of Kasarani, Sagana, Kaptagat, Iten and Eldoret, among other areas, all in the name of getting into the right shape to tackle the 42 kilometres in London for our mothers and children.
These final few days are about conditioning my body taking the travel days into consideration.
Today, I completed a 13-kilometre run and I will not do anything above 30 kilometres in the remaining days as this will not give my body enough time to recover in time for April 13.
The London Marathon is a globally prestigious long distance running event used for fund raising to support charity. We shall seek to leverage on this international event which provides a global platform to raise visibility for maternal and child health issues and mobilize resources for a noble cause.
As a mother myself, I know there is no greater joy than holding your healthy baby in your hands. Yet many women may never get this chance. For them, the experience of childbirth is one filled with fear, pain, sorrow and even death.
My joy would be to enable all mothers to hold their healthy bundles of joy in their hands and live to see past their fifth birthday.”
(Mrs Kenyatta is Kenya’s First Lady. Those wishing to make a donation to her ‘Beyond Zero’ charity can do so through The First Lady’s Half Marathon Trust, Equity Bank, Supreme Banking Centre at Equity Centre, Upper Hill, account number 0810262000200. Donations can also be sent through Safaricom Paybill number 500050)