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'Making history, Making a difference'

1,100 MILES INSPIRED BY THE WORDS OF A STREET CHILD

THE RUN OF A LIFETIME AND A UNIQUE DOCUMENTARY FILM TO CONFRONT THE CRISIS OF CHILDREN GROWING UP ON THE STREETS

Begins July 2010

Chris Rhys Howarth

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Introduction

“How do you begin to understand the journey of a street child?....Make a journey of your own.”

Hello, I'm Chris. Beginning in July 2010 'Run Kenya' will make history by taking on an endurance feat never before attempted - I will run 1100 miles across the entire breadth of Kenya, through 12 major towns and cities, over a period of 7 weeks. I will run approximately 30 miles every running day, through the country's toughest conditions and diverse landscapes - from the remote mountains and altitude of the Rift Valley and Central Provinces - to the sprawling urban heart of Nairobi - and through the barren, desert roads towards Mombasa... However, this challenge is about more than just running... Here is the story behind 'Run Kenya'...

In April 2008 I co-created a unique performing arts project for street children in Kenya called ‘Hear Our Voice’.
Click here to read my full biography

‘Hear Our Voice Kenya’ helps to rehabilitate street children by giving them the opportunity to create pieces of theatre, songs and poetry about their experiences of life on the streets. The project forms part of the wider work of the brilliant street children charity Action for Children in Conflict (AfCiC) and, to date, around 200 children have participated.
Click here to read more about the project

Background

Whilst working in Kenya I met a group of children on the streets in the capital city, Nairobi. A street boy named Michael approached me and our conversation has stayed with me ever since. In a mixture of English and Swahili he told me this:

"Do you understand Kenya for us?" He pointed to himself and the other children. "Do you know what happens?"

"No," I said, "but I’m trying to understand."

"Why don’t you go see?" Michael said. "You could meet us. You should. You could take a journey, like I am."

"What do you mean?"

"I’m on a journey," Michael said, "my life is. But I stay only here. Have you ever been to Mombasa? I’d like to go to Mombasa, I could see the ocean, but I can’t. You could go for me, to Mombasa for my dream, come back and tell me what it is like, how is the ocean."

"I’ll try," I said.

"Maybe you’ll find me there," Michael said.

I was struck by what Michael said. It seemed profound. I immediately wrote our conversation down, and the words have never been far from my thoughts.

I've been running since I was a teenager. Long-distance running. I did my first marathon when I was 19. But Michael’s idea had struck me – maybe, I thought, that could be my journey? I could run across Kenya to Mombasa, reach the ocean? Maybe I’d discover what Michael meant, or maybe I’d be able to tell him all about it?

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Purpose

Michael’s words have inspired me to take on this challenge and make this documentary – to learn and understand as I go. Along the way, I will draw on my experience of working with street children and the success of the 'Hear Our Voice' project to help tell the stories of street children across Kenya.

I will meet the street children living in the towns and cities, talk to them and learn about their lives and experiences. I will also meet with individuals and organisations working to support street children in the community. Through this journey I hope to fulfil what Michael said, and to raise awareness and understanding in Kenya and internationally to help confront the street children crisis, whilst allowing the successful work of 'Hear Our Voice' to grow and benefit greater numbers of children.

The map below gives an overview of the route.

Running Kenya Route Map

I will invite local Kenyans, children and athletes to run sections of the journey with me to help further raise awareness and spread excitement and support for the project.

During the journey, I will also distribute the 'Hear Our Voice' book to schools, communities and street children organisations throughout Kenya. This book contains all the creative work already developed by the original 'Hear Our Voice' children, along with materials and photographs to enable local organisations, should they wish, to develop the project with street children in their communities. By the end of the run I will have achieved a Kenya-wide distribution of the 'Hear Our Voice' project, allowing it to benefit and support as many street children as possible across the country.

Capturing the journey and creating a unique film will, crucially, achieve greater awareness and understanding around the World of this story and the issue of street children, as we aim for television broadcast, international DVD release and screening at film festivals worldwide.

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Across Kenya - The Film

Shortly after 'Run Kenya' finished, post - production began on the documentary film entitled 'ACROSS KENYA'. The film tells the story of the run across Kenya, and the journey of a young boy trying to break free from his life on the streets.

Post-production lasted about one year and at the beginning of 2012 the 'ACROSS KENYA' documentary film was released.
It has since gone on to be offered deals for TV broadcast in Germany, across Africa, and for download in Australia, North America, China, India and across the Middle East.

It is hoped the film will continue to attract interest and secure broadcast opportunities, with all profits that come from broadcast, distribution and sales of the film going to support street children in Kenya.
To read more about 'ACROSS KENYA' and watch some short extracts from the documentary, please go to www.rhyshowarth.com/films

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Please feel free to contact me anytime if you have any questions about the Across Kenya or the 'Hear Our Voice' project.

Many thanks!
Chris

Contact: +44 (0) 7973626060
chris@hearourvoicekenya.com

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