Jonty Rhodes joins Run India

When The Outdoor Journal first contacted Sam about covering the run, they mentioned that there may be a chance of Jonty Rhodes joining her at some point, but she probably didn't understand the magnitude of this at the time.

As he joined the group, it became very clear that to the Indian community this is a very big deal and as he attended events or simply walked the streets people would chant his name, but in his humble nature he would always deflect the attention back to why he was here, because he believes this run can actually make a difference.

On the Sunday he had the chance to see just how big of a difference this could be. He joined the World Vision team to visit an Area Development Project in Jaipur who are one of the communities that funds from Run India will support.

Photo Credit: Lyndon Marceau/ Marceau Photography

The energy was incredible, as the community came to life with ceremonies to welcome this pint-sized woman who was running across India to support their community, and this cricketing legend, who had joined her all in the name of supporting education.

Photo Credit: Lyndon Marceau/ Marceau Photography

As he and Sam met various members of the community they heard stories of challenge, but also hope, learning about the remedial schools that have been setup for those who drop out of school, and is designed to provide a learning environment which can bring them back to age appropriate education standards so they can re-enter the system.

Photo Credit: Lyndon Marceau/ Marceau Photography

They met one girl, Reshma, who had been beaten up by boys in school and then asked to leave by the principle, because the boys were from a higher caste so it was deemed that her presence was no longer welcome. She believed her chance of ever being educated was over, and was too scared to even consider going back to school. However, after attending the remedial school she has since re-entered the education system through an all-girls school where she is excelling and now sees a bright future of possibilities.

These stories clearly impacted Jonty, and as he and Sam ran together on Monday he reflected on his learnings and his realisation around why it's so important to work with the community in developing solutions.

Photo Credit: Lyndon Marceau/ Marceau Photography

The key with what World Vision is doing is it's all community driven. It's about them asking what difference can we make to you.

I've seen in South Africa, especially around the cricket world cup where we've given cricket facilities to communities that actually didn't want them, they needed schools, they needed clinics, they needed assistance for kids education. And that's a key point of difference with what I saw from a World Vision point of view. For me, that is so important! Providing what the community requires, not what you think the community want. If it's not coming from the community, and driven by the community, it's not going to be sustainable. I think that's why World Vision has been so successful as an NGO for so long.


Photo Credit: Lyndon Marceau/ Marceau Photography

It had been an incredibly powerful experience for the community having the chance to meet Sam and Jonty, and on the final day Jonty shared a cricketing analogy which showed it had clearly been a very special moment for him too.

What I ask as a fielding coach, in a game of 20/20 cricket, is for each guy to save me one run. It's not insurmountable, and makes a massive difference to the score. Often the problem in a country of a billion people, is people think 'what's the point of actually getting involved, it's not going to make a difference, it's just too big an issue.' But I've seen one run make a difference and in the same way, one person can make a difference.

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