Last week over 100 young East Londoners from six schools united for a sponsored cycle ride to raise money for children suffering in the worsening famine in East Africa.
Amidst much excitement and healthy competitive spirit, the youngsters successfully completed 900 laps of Stepney Gardens, the equivalent distance from Somali capital Mogadishu to Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. This 450 mile journey is one which Somalis continue to make in search of food and relative security at the Dadaab refugee camps, which face an influx of around 1,200 people each day.
Abedur (8), Brodie (6) and Sonny (7) and others exchange last minute technical tips at the start line. © UNICEF UK/Isabelle Andrews
The ride raised an estimated £3,500 (and counting) of vital funds, and attracted strong media interest, with features on ITV's London Tonight, Newsround and coverage in local press.
In addition, Ben Yeo from the Stepney Schools Partnership, which organised the event, believes the fundraiser has had a significant effect on community cohesion.
“Children across our six schools are 90 per cent + from Bangladeshi families. Somali families across the partnership can feel marginalised and that they don’t have a voice, so it was a real achievement for us to get the Bangladeshi community behind an event about Somalia.”
This father, himself from northern Somalia, was very proud that his son (right) was taking part in the bike ride. "Everyone should participate", he said. "South Somalia needs help". © UNICEF UK/Isabelle Andrews
That message was echoed by Isuf Ahmed -10, pictured below - who said, “I have decided to do the sponsored bike ride for Somalia because people in Somalia are very poor. They don’t have food, water, medicine and clothes and I want to help. I am a child and I feel like all children in the world have rights to live, to go to school, stay healthy, safe and have a better life."
Brothers Isuf (10) Mahir (8) Saif (7) raised £170 together as a family. © UNICEF UK/Isabelle Andrews
It’s still not too late to sponsor the children