Friday, 11 January 2013

Why am I doing this?

Every now and then we like to remind ourselves of the purpose of our existance on this planet. If we fail to answer that question, we sometimes end up owning a sportscar. Or entering ironman events...

I like to test myself. I love new challenges. Sport for me is definitely a challenge, as anyone who ever went to high school with me can testify. I love fighting for social justice and raising awareness of how the world can be a better place. So I thought, what if I join this community of run swim bikers and talk to them about chaffing but also talk to them about the things that I really care about...

And so my blog and twitter feed was borne. Last year, I was touched by the dozens of strangers who supported Freedom from Torture because they followed my London Ultra journey. This year, my social media stalkers are moving into Half Ironman territory, again for the same charity.

Why Freedom from Torture? Ok, there's all the obvious stuff like, they do a bloody excellent job, there is no one else that does what they do, their fundraising ratio is excellent, they can demonstrate impact, they don't duplicate statutory services, they have real values that they stick by, their overheads are low etc etc. Believe me, a lot of charity's can't pass the exam on those issues and I know as I've worked for or with them!

Another reason I've chosen FfT again is because they really engage with their supporters. They made me feel like my money made a difference, well actually, they made me feel like I was a bloody superhero! Anyone who raises money for charity is lying if they say they don't get a kick out of it and it does help you come back to engage with the charity again and again. And I do. I've been to fundraising functions, open days, lectures and more. And I've also volunteered in their offices.

The Freedom from Torture North West office kindly let me kick around while I was being unemployed to help promote their fundraising running challenges. I sort of bumped into clients in the waiting areas. Sometimes, their eyes darted away from you, and you quietly went about getting your cup of tea or photocopying. The staff told me that you noticed as clients would continue to come in for the charity's unique pyschosocial support and counselling that they would eventually lift their head, eventually look you in the eye, eventually maybe one day, smile.

If that wasn't enough to stiffen my resolve to raise a tonne for FfT, there was the children's room. That a children's room has to exist in a place that supports survivors of torture is incomprehendable. That you can try and decorate a room with bright cushions, books and toys amongst the ubiquitous boxes of tissues to somehow soften the damage of torture. It's those bloody tissue boxes everywhere in every room that choke me.

And then there is the unseen. One day volunteering, there was a noise, like an animal, hurt and trapped. A wail, that even now as I type this, gives me goosebumps. I can't describe to you the noise, and what was most harrowing. Was it the pain and anguish evident in that client's cry or the relief that finally, that client had a safe place, and someone to trust so they could let that cry out?

This is why I will swim 1.2 miles, ride 55 miles, run 13.1 miles and raise as much as I can for Freedom from Torture. And as I cross the finish line, I will remember that noise, that cry and know that the money we raise together will allow more people to make that awful yet important release of suffering commence.

You are very welcome to donate here.


  1. well done rowena - I'm glad to see you're still sticking up for people who have no one else to help them

  2. Rowena you are truly an amazing caring human being and an example of what people should strive to become. I am so very proud of you and wish you all the success for your run, swim and ride:) Your doing a great job and we love you loads xo

  3. Hi kiddo mama bear here... Have courage, and refuse to be defeated and all will go well. You should know that you have the support of others. Within you is the spirit capable of touching the stars. Within you is the ability to achieve your goals and make your dreams come true. You have been blessed with so many gifts,all that is needed is the courage you have within you to continue doing what you believe in. You can do it, all of your highest hopes are with you. You can do it. You really can. Much much love Mummyxxxxxx so very very proud of you I will be cheering the loudest on the day oi oi oi

  4. go is amazing to see the things you are involved in...