A final sprint to Burundi!

It’s been 2 months since the team returned to London, and while time has been set aside to work on the legacy of the project, balancing work and other commitments with Run Rwanda has become a familiar challenge, and running through the beautiful dusty hills of Rwanda are beginning to feel like a distant memory.

While we have lots of updates on the Run Rwanda legacy, it’s important to document the completion on the run itself and the final 60km stretch from Kigali, down south to the Burundi border.

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John running south, in the direction of the Burundi border

Our pit stop in Kigali had been a whirlwind of media interviews and entrepreneur visits, and it felt great to be back out on the road again, pounding the hot tarmac. Running through the quiet suburbs of Kigali was ironically one of our most peaceful times on the run, as local Rwandans were far too busy getting on with their day-to-day tasks to take an interest in the brightly coloured ‘Muzungu’ trotting past.

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John being interviewed on the National Rwandan News

We were heading in the direction of Nyamata, a southern town that sadly witnessed some of the worst atrocities during genocide. After a long day’s running, we were surprised when we finally arrived to find an energetic and lively community, with a charm that we hadn’t witnessed elsewhere in the country.

We were also still on the entrepreneurs trail and had a meeting set up with two AEC entrepreneurs who had set up a Health Clinic in town.

Jean d’Amour and Liliane were a couple who had grown frustrated with the standard of local healthcare service in their District, and with support from the AEC they’d opened a pioneering new health clinic in Nyamata, with Medical Experts and the latest technology in-house, they’re now able to provide patients with excellent service and instant test results. Another inspiring example of entrepreneurship driving up standards of living in Rwanda.

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Jean d’amour and Liliane at their Health Clinic in Nyamata

While at the clinic, we also met Norbert, a local man who was running a charity called ‘Rwanda Together We Can’. Norbert’s day job is in local hospital but he has set up a social enterprise on the side, to work with HIV+ women and their families. Running a team of 60 volunteers, Norbert is offering  these women free medical and phycological care, and any support you’re able to give him would be greatly appreciated, you can find out more at: www.rtwco.weebly.com

After nearly 4 weeks of running, we woke up with one final day on the road ahead of us. The last 30km stretch would take us directly to the Burundi border and in order to get back to Kigali in good time, we set off at sunrise. Being so close to the border, we didn’t pass through any villages and the road was more or less deserted. That last stretch reminded me of uninhabited African bush, terrain that we hadn’t come across before in Rwanda. It was an incredibly peaceful last run, which came to an abrupt end when we were turned a corner, only to be confronted by an armed border control guard asking about our business. ‘We’ve just run across Rwanda, we said‘, he stared at us, perplexed.

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John at the Run Rwanda finishing line, the Burundi border

The run was over, it had been an incredible experience and while I was physically exhausted, I was buzzing with excitement. Over the course of the last month we’d explored a beautiful country, that has so much to offer the world. We’d also uncovered a fascinating and truly democratic culture of entrepreneurship, that’s helping to form a new and modern identity for Rwanda.

It genuinely felt like there was a unique story we should tell, that could begin to shift wide spread and archaic perceptions of Rwanda.

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The Run Rwanda team are now working towards publishing a Photography Book in 2017

Our challenge now was to tell this story, and it was clear that the hard work had only just begun.

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