Participants in our ultramarathons have running in their blood. For some of them, it goes with a true caring about others, wherever they are and wherever they come from. Some of them are involved in issues of a quite different nature than the Continental Challenge. But with endurance and kindliness in common. This is the case with Carlos Llano Fernandez.
A traveler who runs and a runner who travels
Upheld marathoner, Carlos ran THE TRACK Australia in 2015 and the Ultra AFRICA Race in 2012 (Burkina Faso) and 2017 (Mozambique). Won over by the beauty of desert landscapes and the wild life, sometime he stayed after the event to visit the country. Despite the pandemic, 2020 will be the year of a mountain trip on the slopes of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and a race in Albania. “I have a van with bed and fridge so I travelled around Europa and the Alps” says Carlos, always moving between sports adventure and discovering. In 2021, he participated to the Ultra BOLIVIA Race on the Bolivian Altiplano.
Carlos has no borders but he has found his home base
Africa was attracting him for a long time and for many reasons. With the help of a Spanish non-profit foundation, Tienda Asilo de San Pedro, he gets the chance to go there for the first time in 2012. He leaves for running the Epic challenge in Burkina Faso for WendBeNeDo, a project to support children and adults affected by HIV. The meeting keeps its promises and Carlos will soon come back in this seducing country. For a deeper help to the project, he creates his own association Childhood Smile, today approved NGO.
In this country among the poorest of the planet, endemic drought hinders the development of agriculture and tourism. In isolated villages with disastrous sanitary conditions, HIV spreads quickly with unspeakable consequences. Especially for ill and orphans kids. Due to the commitment of all actors in the WendBeNeDo project, they can reach the medical center in Kongoussi, 120km north from the capital Ouagadougou. Childhood Smile employees and volunteers supplement medical aid by working on three goals: tackling malnutrition, psychological support and education.
Discussion groups allow to understand the needs and expectations of the beneficiaries. The NGO build strong links between patients, workers and volunteers involved in the project. Today, more than 260 adults and 340 kids ill, vulnerable or orphans are monitored or working with Childhood Smile.
Carlos and his team coordinate efforts around education “the unique tool to help them to get out of extreme poverty” he tells in the documentary to watch on his website. He also evokes children working in gold mines where – In addition to a context of semi-slavery – cyanide land treatment generates severe diseases.
Bleak but full of hope news
Burkina Faso is having serious problems due to terrorism and Carlos underlines that more than one million people have been displaced in the country. “At least, the place where my children are living is more or less in calm, but we are not totally serene with so many problems.” He gives a hopeful note, confirming that more of 300 children are growing up well and are studying. This year, Joceline, one of their pupils and serious student, started civil engineering. “That is very important for girls to understand that they also can follow their dreams, attend the University. It’s a great and inspiring example!”
The motto of both Childhood Smile and WendBeNeDo is Be With. Move forward together with teamwork and a family and reassuring atmosphere, for the kid’s dreams to become reality. A full and lasting commitment for Carlos, even at a distance.