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Thoughts from April 2007

the final countdown

Although we've been diligent with our marathon training it feels like the big event has crept up on us a little and there are still a few things to iron out. Like Ceri's outfit, Nicky's wobbly foot and what Nikki is going to nibble on around the course. Panic.

But - hopefully it will all be ok by Sunday. And to make it even better it would be great if you could come along to cheer us on. You might not be able to spot us as like every one else, we'll be wearing lycra, lots of lycra. But hopefully our nice bright pinkWellChild vests with our names on will help us stand out.

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You can shout whatever you like to cheer us on, but our favourites are: ' not long to go now' - 'keep it up innocent ladies' and 'woo hoo - feel the burn'. Do feel free to customize with pom poms and dance routines.

notes from India...

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Well, it's one week into my trip to India to visit one of the NGOs that the innocent foundation supports, and what an incredible week it's been.

After 2 days in the noise and heat of Chennai (which used to be named Madras), on Monday morning I travelled south for about 2 hours into rural India, to the ITWWS campus, which is where I’m spending 2 weeks working with the team, learning all about what they do as well as sharing some of the things we've learnt at innocent.

ITWWS is the Irula Tribal Women’s Welfare Society, and is one of the NGOs that the innocent foundation supports through WOMANKIND Worldwide in the UK. ITWWS work with tribal women in the Tamilnadu region of India. The Irulas are a semi-nomadic tribe and until about 50 years ago they got all their food and medicines from the forest. However, a number of wildlife and forestry protection laws have been passed in recent years, which has forced the tribes out of their natural habitat. This means that many of them have lost their homes and their livelihoods, and as a result they have to move around for work and for food, with many of them suffering from extreme poverty.

ITWWS is working with Irula women to give them an income by teaching them to use their traditional skills. For instance, because the Irulas have traditionally lived of the land, they have a huge knowledge of plants and herbs which are known to have medicinal properties. ITWWS has set up a number of nurseries on the campus where hundreds of different plants and herbs are grown. These are then picked, dried, ground and packaged, and sold as herbal medicines to generate income for the Irula women.

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As well as learning all about ITWWS, I’m also here to share some of innocent’s experiences with ITWWS in terms of business knowledge, as they are hoping to be able to sell their herbal medicines under the Irula brand throughout India and possibly internationally at some point in the future.

I’m staying on the ITWWS campus and it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s in a forest area, 10km from the nearest town, so pretty remote. It’s on 10 acres and contains the plant nurseries, herbal production unit, a handicrafts centre, and arts library. It’s dry season at the moment so it’s scorching – somewhere around 35-40 degrees.

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Yesterday I went on a field trip with the ecology team to a town called Tiruvannanalai which is famous for its Hindu temples. The ground is very dry so the team were there to test the soil in the temple grounds to try to work out which plants and herbal medicines they could grow there. It was a great experience for me, especially as they took me round the temple, explaining all the rituals and meanings.

The team that I'm working with are some of the loveliest people I've ever met. They've made me feel really welcome and I'm feeling quite sad that I've only got 5 days left with them.

Helen

some final fun before the run

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Pre marathon chic. Not a sports bra in sight.

On Saturday night, we swapped our trainers for high heels, put on some lippy and invited all our friends along to our fundraising event at the Shepherds Bar in London.

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Bruce Forsyth, eat your heart out.

Alexis spun some tunes, there was lots of dancing and we had some brilliant prizes to raffle off from our friends at Hummus Brothers, Tattinger, Champneys, Bliss, Tim at The Club Hotel & Spa and the England rugby team, to mention but a few.

Brett won a pair of boots (ladies size 6), Lou bagged herself a load of goodies from Red Magazine and JT went home the proud owner of a signed England Rugby shirt.

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As touched by Johnny Wilkinson, Josh Lewsey et al

We raised just under £1000 which will all go to the charity we're running for, Wellchild.

Massive thanks to everyone who came along on the night, bought raffle tickets, donated prizes and shook their booty to House of Pain.

Only 5 days to go til the big day...final training tips to be posted tomorrow.