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Lighting up the darkness with Compassion UK

Compassion UK's Muskathlon has raised more than £150k for vulnerable children so far

When the sun sets in some of Nairobi’s slums, family life stops. No more cooking, cleaning, homework or playing till morning. Without electricity, it’s almost impossible to carry on after dark. 

Those hours of darkness matter, for a family to be productive and work themselves out of poverty. Children need to eat well and get enough hydration to help them concentrate at school. At home, they need time to practise the skills they are learning, and they need time to relax and play. None of this can happen if they don’t have the light to see. These communities need light in the darkness. 

At Compassion UK, we believe our work to help children in these communities is an outpouring of the heart of Jesus. The gospel is the love and heart of God put on display for mankind. Jesus took a stand for the vulnerable in society, never forgetting the people who society so often overlooked. 

So in 2018, we partnered with 4M to run a Muskathlon event. We wanted to create a fun, challenging and exciting way for people to join in this work: to stand up for the most vulnerable children around the world, to speak up against injustice and shine the light of the gospel.

The Muskathlon is a sporting challenge to raise money. Participants can run, walk or cycle a variety of distances in countries all around the world. In 2018, we took a team of 60 participants to Kenya. Throughout this trip they had the opportunity to experience extreme poverty in the slums of Nairobi. They also had the joy and fun of hosting a sports day for 200 children in the rural region surrounding Lake Baringo. 

At the end of the week, the team finished with their sporting event. They had to take part in either a half marathon, marathon or ultra-marathon run, a 42 or 63km walk or a 120-km cycle. They completed these challenges to raise an incredible amount of money for Compassion in Kenya and to see 297 children sponsored.

The 2018 Muskathlon brought light to the community in more ways than one. Through the experience, participants shared the love and hope of Jesus. At the same time, the money they raised will provide 1,500 solar lights to Kenyan households, giving them a safe, reliable and environmentally sustainable way to light their homes. This means life can carry on after darkness, giving back those valuable waking hours of the day. Children can do their homework, reading and studying under their new solar lights. 

While Kenya appears to place a high value on education, one of the challenges is providing children with everything they need to focus. Many families don’t have money for uniforms, books, food and water. Without adequate nutrition or resources, it’s hard for children to thrive in school and gain the skills they need to break the cycle of poverty. 

The children sponsored are a part of a Compassion project, where they will receive resources for education, basic medical care, spiritual support and nutritious food – all of which is essential to their development and growth.

Compassion works through a holistic approach to child development, believing that through this we will release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Before they’d even arrived in Kenya, the team of 60 saw children sponsored and money raised for almost a year. They set the goal of seeing 10 children sponsored or £10,000 per person raised. This may seem like a daunting amount, but with the help of Compassion and the heart to step outside of their comfort zone and put their trust in God – they smashed this target.

As well as the 1,500 solar lights, the team were also able to support 49 students through further or higher education. They also supported the Compassion child survival programme, helping at-risk children even before they’ve been born. Through the provision of antenatal and postnatal care, nutrition, vaccinations and critical support and training for mums, we’re giving vulnerable babies the best chance of a healthy start in life.

So far, the Muskathlon has raised £156,000 and provided sponsorship for 297 children – and this number is still increasing. When the participants experienced poverty up close, they were shocked by what they saw. They understood with a new thankfulness what they had back at home, and they were able to identify deeply with those in need. It showed them that as a Christian they have a responsibility to stand up and speak out for children in poverty all around the world and shine the light of God into some of the most devastating circumstances.

With globalisation, people are becoming more and more engaged with this kind of movement. Christians and churches are more aware of the calling to look outside of themselves, their immediate circumstances and surroundings, share the kingdom of God and tackle injustice.

Are you ready to step outside of your comfort zone, stand up, speak up and do something extraordinary by tackling injustice? Come and join us for the Muskathlon in Rwanda in 2019.

Andy Haddow is a volunteering specialist at Compassion UK.

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