In the run up to the London 2012 Opening ceremony, we follow longtime fundraiser and barefoot torchbearer John McBride’s journey, from being nominated as a torchbearer, to his return to Korogocho to pass on his own Olympic legacy.
At last, we were in Nairobi and then to Korogocho. Since I was last here, a new smooth road had been built by the Chinese to take us out of the city. But as we got to the outskirts of Korogocho – a square mile of space home to a bigger population than Sunderland – the tarmac ran out and the buildings got smaller and shabbier.
Here, corrugated iron is the main building material, and a disused shipping container is luxury.
Sophie and I arrived at the St. John’s Sports Project on Saturday – a well-constructed gym inside Koch which is free for under-16s thanks to funding from CAFOD – and were greeted by a beaming Fr. John Weebotsa.
We were invted to take part in a game of 7 a side football and despite my best footballing years being behind me, I somehow scored a goal. I sunk into the dust where there would normally be grass and thought that things couldn’t get any better.
We went out into the slums and visited some of the other projects that were either linked with or had started up with help from St. John’s. First stop was “The Brotherhood” and I walked along the road with ‘Uncle’, who by his own admission had been a “bad boy” but now helped other young people to see their true value.
He said that he knew personally of about 700 contemporaries who had not reached his age. None of them had died peacefully.
On to the community radio station, Koch FM which was broadcasting to the 200,000 residents and said that they reached about 80% of them. It was the afternoon reggae show playing “Nothing To Smile About” and the DJ asked if I had a message for the young people of Korogocho.
What could I say? Their own government gives them scant respect; they need to avoid fighting among themselves, as happened with sickening violence after the disputed elections in 2008.
I said that they should come together; that their power is greater as a group and they must look after one another.
In the shipping container next door is Miss Koch, a group of young women whose mission is to empower other women through education, healthcare and mutual support. They had started out with support from St. John’s but were now confident enough to be their own NGO.
Back to St. John’s and then back to Nairobi, ready for Sunday, ready for a full length African Mass, and the real reason for coming….