Due to the corona crisis, the end-of-year corrida in Leuven unfortunately did not take place last year. However, we did not throw in the towel and started looking for an alternative for our annual fundraising challenge “A leg up for Benin”. In the end, we opted for a sponsored virtual trip from Leuven to Parakou in Benin and back. Participants who wanted to take up the challenge could sign up throughout December to run, cycle or walk wherever and whenever they wanted. By registering their sports performance on the Hubi & Vinciane group on the Strava app or by entering their planned kilometres on our website, they could accumulate kilometres for our virtual trip. At the same time, they could also make a financial contribution to our “Clean Water for the School” project.
The official starting shot was fired on Saturday the 5th of December in Leuven in the presence of Leuven’s aldermen Lies Corneillie (responsible for global policy) and Carl Devlies, biostatistics professor Geert Molenberghs (a loyal participant in the Leuven Corrida) and honorary rector Marc Vervenne. And from then on, we had to wait… Could this concept be successful? Would people be attracted by the idea of a “virtual journey“?
And it worked!
We needed 16,000 kilometres to get from Leuven to Parakou. Thanks to the 300 or so enthusiastic participants, we managed to collect no less than 18,300 km! That was even sufficient to do a few additional virtual laps of honour on the Leuven ring road when we arrived in Leuven on the 27th of December.
Not only in Belgium was the project met with enthusiasm, in Benin too, our staff was able to get more than 100 supporters to run together. Even the Belgian ambassador to Benin, Mr Xavier Leblanc, ran with them. Through regular posts on our social media, we kept the participants informed of our progress and encouraged them to go one step further. Even popular characters such as Dries Mertens and Kat Kerkhofs, Denis Odoi and Sieg De Doncker let us know that they supported “A leg up for Benin“. We would like to thank them explicitly for their support.
In total, the sports participants and their sponsors raised 30,000 euros for our project “Clean water for the school“. Our colleagues from Benin also made a financial contribution. Thanks to these donations, together with the support of the Rotary Club Leuven-Rotselaar, we are able to realise this year a new important phase of our ambitious project. Due to the important contribution of the many sports enthusiasts, it was decided to apply for co-financing from the Rotary Foundation through a global grant, called “Water for Benin schools“.
We are now moving on with the implementation of the programme. In a first phase, the different price offers will be compared. In the meantime, we are starting the soil studies in preparation of the drilling of the wells. One of the first schools that will be able to use a new well is the school in Bido Alafia.
It was a success
We are thus more than satisfied with our action “A leg up for Benin”. We would like to thank all the participants, sponsors and supporters!
But we are not there yet!
To provide clean water, adequate sanitation and hygiene facilities and vegetable gardens to the 50 schools we work with in the municipalities of Parakou, N’Dali and Tchaourou, we need a total of 195,000 euros over a three-year period. The proceeds from ”A leg up for Benin‘ and the support from the Rotary Club are just about enough to cover the costs for 2021. For 2022 and 2023, we are still looking for additional financial resources. If you would like to improve the lives of the pupils of our partner schools and the inhabitants of the surrounding villages in a sustainable way, you can always support our ‘Clean Water for the School’ project.