Monday, 10 September 2012
TOWIE for Burkina Faso
Over the summer, we've heard so many amazing tales connected to the Olympics and Paralympics, but this one is local to us in Upminster and really captures the spirit of London 2012 for me. It also proves that so many people are essentially good and kind, and this is the legacy that I really hope Britain can sustain:
"When Paralympic teams arrived at Heathrow in the lead up to these Games they were normally met with flowers, smiles and helpers. But when 24-year-old Liam Conlon went to greet the five members of the Burkina Faso team, the picture was quite different. He found a forlorn group: wearing brightly-coloured national dress, they were sat on their bags surrounded by police, while tourists looked on taking photos.
The team had nowhere to go, and nowhere to train – and very little money to salvage the situation."
Funding is often very spare in many countries for the Paralympics, and even for GB, where this years' Games aside, many athletes struggle to fund their training and competition.
"Liam Conlon took the only solution available to him – he took them home to his mum and dad in Abridge, Essex, and over the following weeks found them somewhere to train, new equipment and a lot of new friends. When the team's two competitors – Lassane Gasbeogo and Kadidia Nikiema – get on their bikes to compete in the time trial at Brands Hatch it will be thanks to the huge generosity of the people they have met since stepping on to these shores on 6 August."
The kindness that Liam and his family showed to these athletes was without limit:
"It has been an eye-opening, and occasionally perilous, experience for him and his family. "The very first day one of the team nearly burnt the house down," he said. "He put the electric kettle on the hob and turned it on to boil water – and there really has been something along those lines every day.""
The Brentwood School let them use their facilities to train, and even held a non-uniform day to raise funds for them. They'll continue this after the athletes return to Burkina Faso to help them continue to train. They even had to get a new bike which was provided at just cost price from France.
The article concludes:
"Chef de Mission Florentine Ouedraogo said the team had been overwhelmed by the help and support they had received from so many different people. "It has been a fabulous experience, that we didn't expect at all," she said. "Without this help we just wouldn't be here. If any of these people come to Burkina Faso they will be welcomed as though they were our family.""
Read the article in full here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/sep/04/paralympics-2012-burkina-faso-essex
So is this legacy of kindness, love and compassion one that Britain will be able to sustain? This is surely a model of behaviour that Jesus would have admired. Why is it so hard to be like this all the time? Do we need an excuse, a motivation? If London 2012 gave us that for just one summer, it'll be disappointing as it shows what kind of people we can be and should aspire to be.