So on September 25th I am doing a 5.2km open water swim off the coast of Dakar, Senegal, to raise funds for Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative , one of a handful of support groups addressing mental health in Africa’s most populous nation; and Animal Rescue League Dakar, on behalf of my labradoodle and swim training partner, Banjo, for all the amazing animals who brighten humans’ lives. Because nothing beats a two hour swim through jellyfish-infested waters to celebrate a new lease on life!!
One of the first charities to launch a suicide prevention hotline in Nigeria last year, Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative was set up by a young Nigerian doctor after he struggled to accept and understand a mental illness diagnosis, eventually suffering a serious breakdown. Crucially, that means it’s led and run entirely by people who understand the punitive culture that surrounds basic mental health in Nigeria. A team of 7 trained counsellors typically handle around 100 monthly distress calls; they also run a buddying system, which is so important in the early stages of recovery; AND they're currently lobbying the Nigerian senate to pass a long overdue Mental Health Bill.
The Ligue Pour la Protection des Animaux (Animal Rescue League), again run entirely by volunteer funds, is one of few animal charities in Dakar, where the official policy to reduce collarless animals (animals that typically live on the streets but are cared for/adopted informally) is to poison them. As well as looking after and vaccinating countless animals in need, they're trying to combat campaigns in which poisoned meat is thrown in the streets – endangering human lives while also robbing people of their beloved pets.
Both organisations have pledged to be completely transparent with the funds, so I’ll be updating on exactly where your dosh is going. Please donate what you can – everything counts! Thank you all.