A Nescot tutor has run a marathon in West Africa for charity.
Daniel Raffo ran in northern Sierra Leone on May 26 in aid of Street Child, which has projects including building schools, training teachers and working with youngsters sleeping on the streets.
He completed the event, his first marathon, in five hours 40 minutes and spoke of how tough the conditions had been.
“The course was very hilly, most of it was on uneven dirt tracks with about six miles through a jungle area, and it was extremely hot and humid,” said Daniel, who teaches Sport to BTEC students.
“I was ok until about mile 13, and then I got a twinge in my knee which got progressively worse, but I was determined to finish the course.”
Daniel also ran in memory of his childhood friend Lance Corporal Nicky Mason, a soldier who died in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2008.
Street Child organises an event each year where participants can run a full or half-marathon or 5k.
This year about 800 people took part, including 175 international runners from 12 countries, with the nation’s president Dr Ernest Bai Koroma among those running the 5k race.
The charity raised more than £320,000 last year and hopes to better that total this year.
Daniel, who funded the costs of the trip himself, has raised about £300 through his JustGiving page, with other sponsorship coming in through a Nescot football tournament he organised.
After the marathon, he spent some time visiting Street Child’s initiatives, including a school in Makeni and a project with homeless youngsters in the capital, Freetown.
“The thing that affected me the most was seeing children as young as my son, sleeping on the streets and taking drugs,” said Daniel, father to 11-year-old Brandon and seven-year-old Madison.
“It’s hard to comprehend what life is like for those children, so it made me realise how important it is that there are charities like Street Child to help them.
“I’m not sure whether I would run a marathon again, but I definitely hope to be able to support Street Child again in some way in the future.”
Daniel’s friend Nicky, who grew up in Aveley in Thurrock, served with 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment.
He joined the Armed Forces in December 2001 and was posted to 2 Para the following July, serving in Northern Ireland and completing two tours of Iraq.
Nicky was clearing an important area in September 2008 as part of a high-profile operation to move a turbine to the Kajaki Dam to provide electricity for the rest of Helmand when his patrol was hit by an explosion. He was 26.
Sierra Leone is one of the world’s poorest countries, with infant mortality among the highest internationally and a life expectancy of 48 for men and 49 for women.
To donate to Daniel’s fundraising efforts, visit http://www.justgiving.com/Daniel-Raffo
Nescot runs a range of BTECs in sport to a Level 3 Extended Diploma, and a foundation degree in sports therapy.