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1988 saw the first SOS Children's Village open in Tanzania at Zanzibar, followed by a children's village at Arusha and Dar es Salaam. Over 150 are cared for in loving family homes at these locations and more than 700 children from the local communities attend SOS Nursery and Primary schools as well as the SOS Social Centre at Arusha. … more about our charity work in Tanzania

The motivation to go the extra mile

Ed and children from the SOS Children's Village
Ed and children from the SOS Children's Village

Ed Roberts first got involved with SOS Children whilst studying at the University of Manchester in 2007. After volunteering at our SOS Children’s Villages and seeing first-hand the difference fundraising makes to our projects, he continues to support us and recently took on the Greater Manchester Marathon to raise money for our work!

When Ed was a student, he set up a charity project with a group of friends to raise money for SOS Children. The team managed to raise over £20,000 for two years running, by completing sponsored events including the Yorkshire ‘three peaks’ challenge, which involved the team running and walking the 20 miles across the three peaks in Yorkshire, as well as a charity ‘speed-dating’ evening.

In 2007, 12 members of the supporters group visited three SOS Children’s Villages in South Africa, in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Rustenburg. A keen sportsman, Ed and the group provided a coaching session for the excited children who live in the Villages. A year later, the team returned to Africa, only this time to three SOS Children’s Villages in Tanzania, in Arusha, Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, to offer the young people living there a day of sports training too.

Ed says: “I had an incredible time in the Children’s Villages in both South Africa and Tanzania. We went into the Villages for a day and coached the children in various sports. We also left all of the sports equipment we used behind in the Village so that the children could use it after we left.”

The students had the chance to hear the children’s stories and learn how they had come to live in the Village. In many cases, their parents had died through disease and the children had no one else to care for them. Ed says: “Without SOS Children the majority of those kids would not have had any chance in life and would be alone, homeless and probably much worse.”

Two and a half years after graduating, Ed decided to take on the Greater Manchester Marathon in support of SOS Children. As well as raising funds for SOS Children, signing up to the 26 mile challenge gave him the motivation to exercise regularly: “I’m a nightclub promoter so my lifestyle is not always conducive to healthy living. The marathon gave me a focus and a reason to keep fit.”

Ed started training for the marathon in December last year. A normal week of training for Ed included a long run, two shorter runs, with the occasional gym visit and weight lifting session. The marathon was Ed’s first, and he completed it in a brilliant 3 hours and 49 minutes, despite what he describes as ‘horrific’ weather conditions.

Ed says that his experience whilst at University encouraged him to go the distance for SOS Children. He says: “I saw first hand the outstanding work that SOS Children do and the real difference it makes to people lives.” Other members of the supporters group also continue to be involved with SOS Children. The experience abroad even inspired one member of the group to move to South Africa to do charity work. Ed says: “In all honesty the experience changed my life and the lives of the others who were involved in the project.”

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