The Last Installment….
Chamonix, France. December 20th
Unlike exams, reading this blog is most definitely non-compulsory. It should be regarded as for only those truly hard core followers of the Mississippi project or those seeking some solace from the maelstrom that is Christmas. I fall firmly into both categories as, I suspect, do many others.
I felt compelled to write this last blog for a number of reasons.
First, because I have been asked by any number of friends and family to write one last blog “to round things off”. I think this is a neat and tidy reason to pen another piece, but having now reflected carefully on the enormity of what we have accomplished this year, I have decided in the New Year to write a book. There were some important experiences and encounters during the project which I felt inappropriate to include in the blog. Some were strongly positive and some were, frankly, deeply disturbing. Having discussed it with friends, it became clear to me that I must attempt to do justice to the project in long form. I am terrified that this may be seen as hubris, but I hope that my amateur scribbling will be taken in the right spirit.
Secondly, because folk that have kindly read some of these blogs felt rather short changed. They felt that having stayed the course, it was missing a final chapter and a clear acknowledgement that it had finally ended. Well, this last statement is both true and false. It is clear that we have finished the journey, intact and upright, largely unharmed (can’t vouch for Paddy, but all of my sores have now healed), with few lasting scars. The boats, bless ‘em, are back after a circuitous journey via Houston, Texas (ask Graeme Mulcahy – but I promise you it is a two beer story…) and now safely being overhauled at the makers in Windsor. Their final destination is still not yet clear, but we are discussing it regularly.
So although the project is finished, in that sense, what is not finished and which seems to live on and gain strength, is the magic that surrounded the whole event. We now have a community – a fellowship, if you will excuse the flagrant tolkienism – that is strongly aligned to what we have achieved and which wants to do more. To this group I can slay that it will be some while before I can really contemplate anything of this magnitude again. But like all good politicians, I am not ruling it out….
And finally, there is the little matter of the recent announcement that we have gone through the $1,000,000 barrier, which was our ultimate goal. I was overwhelmed when I knew we would make this target. As I have mentioned before, it seemed a ludicrously large sum to make, based on an eccentric Englishman, an even more eccentric Aussie, a totally loyal and dedicated team, 2,320 miles and two Victorian skiffs. Be honest, if I pitched that to you and said on the back of that we will raise $1,000,000, you would have rightly had me carted away. Well we have done it.
Let me give you a small indication of scale – if we stop at just over $1m, at a base level this would support around 30,000 children for an entire year. But much more than this, the fact that we have raised all this money as unrestricted income (which gives the charity maximum flexibility to allocate it accordingly) means that we can support programmes in desperate need. Countries in which we work neighbouring Syria are dealing with an influx of millions of refugees. The ability to extend our programmes in these countries is wonderful for us as fundraisers, but for the children it is beyond value – it is vital. These funds will allow us to train and support the thousands of volunteer coaches (yes, all our coaches are voluntary – the funding goes to train them). They then work in schools and refugee camps, educating the children about malaria, HIV/aids, nutrition, sanitation and on and on. The measurable outcomes around malaria and sanitation alone – getting the children into the habit of washing their hands – has had a profound impact in the societies in which the children live. Very simply put, children are surviving instead of dying through ignorance. And their parents and their extended families and the rest of their villages change their behaviour led by the children.
This is the fundamental, demonstrable, repeatable and measurable impact that your fundraising has made.
In addition, it may – just may – be that there could be some matched funding from two governmental agencies which would further magnify the number. It could even double it, which would be truly seismic, but, ladies and gentlemen, we have smashed it out of the park.
So as we wander towards this Christmas 2014, every single person that has had anything to do with this Mississippi madness, should at some point find a quiet corner and a glass of something delicious, and bask – truly bask – in the knowledge that you have done something unforgettably wonderful. You also have my unending gratitude for carrying me down this river and allowing me record a win. And a big one.
Please see attached video that’s tells a little of the story of the Mississippi Million.
With my eternal and grateful thanks.