On the 27th of August, 2022, Director of Comfort International, Callum Henderson, set out on an epic challenge to raise funds for a new school in Rubaya, in an area of mineral conflict in D.R. Congo. The challenge: 1 mile swimming, 10 miles running, 100 miles cycling with 1000 metres of elevation all in under 10 hours. Oh, and he was turning 60 years old that day.
The challenge was great, but the cause even greater. The area of Rubaya is set in the Northern Kivu area of D. R. Congo. It is an extremely poor community, which is set in an area rich in minerals and exploited for this. The village is overshadowed by a large mineral mine, where many of the components for our smartphones can be found. Men, women and children are condemned to life in and around the mines, either digging for the precious metals, washing them in the nearby river or caught up in the conflict surrounding. The dangers are endless, and include risk of fighting and killing due to the value of the minerals, flooding of the plains due to the erosion caused by the mines and even death in the darkness of a collapsed mine. The people of Rubaya are desperate for an alternative future for their children, and education is key to this. Instead of the dilapidated shed they use to teach their children, which is consistently flooded, and falling down, they want to build a proper school, to give the young people of the area a real chance for a different life. The community has donated the land for the new school, but they need help to raise the £90,000 needed to build the 6-classroom building which represents the hope for a better future for the community. To read more about this, see our blog here.
So the big day came and the stage was set for a triathlon like no other. We started the day down at the swimming pool in Carnoustie golf club where Callum had to swim 114 lengths to reach his mile goal. We were encouraged by locals, family and friends who came to watch, donate and support. He made an incredibly strong start to the challenge, and in under an hour he had completed the first leg of the triathlon and we were on to stage 2.
Next was the bike ride which would take up by far the largest portion of the day. Setting off from the club, Callum cycled for the next 6 hours like his life depended on it. Stopping twice to give us updates, he reflected on the hilly journey, the beautiful day, and the cause for which he was taking on this event. In this video, you can hear a mid-cycle interview of why a school is so important in this area and how he was getting on at this point in the race. As he cycled around the hills and valleys of Angus, with Race for Rubaya emblazoned across his back, his thoughts were on the hills of Rubaya, scarred with man-made mines and affecting the lives of real families in D. R. Congo.
As a tired Callum came in from his 100 mile cycle, with his various watches and devices to prove both the distance and elevation, and he hastily replenished his supplies (that means cake), his concentration turned to the most difficult event for him personally – the run. Despite being an accomplished runner as a young man, injuries have proven very damaging for Callum over the years and this is by far the longest distance he has accomplished in a long time, made harder by being hot on the heels of the swim and run. It certainly proved to be an excruciating challenge, fighting through fatigue, injury, pain and mental exhaustion. As he completed loop after loop of the Carnoustie golf course, it was uncertain as to whether he could keep going until the end. But, accompanied by his son Gregor, 9 hours and 33 minutes after he set off on his swim in the morning, he ran down the finishing straight for an emotional and well deserved completion to his challenge.
It was truly a fantastic event and a highly commendable effort by Callum to complete this mammoth challenge. However, the real thanks go to all the supporters who donated to this challenge. We were overwhelmed by the reponse. At the time of this report, over £11,800 has been raised for this school. That is very nearly the cost of a whole classroom, and almost one eighth of the cost of the whole school which is monumental. We thank each and every person who donated for every penny that you gave. 100% of the funds donated will go directly to build this school in the community of Rubaya, so you can be certain that your donation is making a direct and tangible difference to the lives of people who need it more than ever. We thank Callum for his incredible tenacity, faithfulness and determination to help wherever he can. And we thank you for partnering with us on this incredible journey to follow the call, believing that truly, a little can change a life.