I have always loved running, but it was not until a chronic injury cut my Division 1 Collegiate career short that I realized running is much more than just competing for personal records and gold medals. I discovered the community aspect and became inspired by the use of running as a medium to touch the lives of others—and in return, to be touched. Volunteering through running allows me to connect with humanity and pursue the betterment of humanity, all while being able to express my love for the sport.
Thanks to my parents’ Moroccan origins, I have been exposed to life in a third world country--what it really means and looks like to be born into poverty. To be born into a environment with no chance of making it out due to the inability to get an education or even live in a healthy, nourished body. I then look at myself, my friends, people around me who live a life of abundance, and I can’t quite seem to wrap my head around the fairness of it. I do know that it is in my heart to help others who were not given the opportunities that I was. What good is your success in life if you don’t use it to help those in need?
I am inspired to participate in the February 2019 Run Across Haiti with WORK because of the impact I (and you and WE!) can make on Haitian families’ lives: putting food on an otherwise empty table, providing job training to parents who have to care for their children, and ensuring that children stay in school by removing the burden of needing to provide an income to serve their family. I hope to raise awareness of the true level of poverty in Haiti. I truly believe that running will provide the empowerment needed to realize the goal of lifting families out of poverty, by showing us that we, the human race, can accomplish anything we set our minds to. If a group of runners can run across Haiti on a 200 mile, weeklong ultramarathon race, we can all help a country out of poverty, on a lifelong humanitarian ultramarathon race.
The current situation in Haiti is much worse than we assume it to be, as reported by the Borgen Project (https://borgenproject.org/top-five-facts-about-poverty-in-haiti/). In 2010, Haiti was struck by the strongest earthquake since 1770. The 7.0 mW quake with 4.2-5.9 aftershocks affected at least three million people and increased poverty in Haiti. Even before the earthquake hit, 1.9 million people were in need of food assistance as around 60 percent of the population lives on less than $1.00 a day. As a result, malnutrition and anemia run rampant. Haiti is the poorest and third hungriest country in the world with a poverty rate of 77%. Only 50% of people have access to an improved water source, meaning most of the population depends on water sources without adequate sanitation—resulting in susceptibility to disease and infection. Only 50% of children are able to go to school, with only 30% progressing to fifth grade. The literacy rate is less than 50%, and without a proper education, the cycle of poverty remains unbroken. There is a large population of orphaned children in Haiti, with untold thousands adding to an estimated 380,000 prior to the earthquake. There are also about 250,000 children working as servants and often treated as slaves.
The Haitian people are greatly in need of assistance and guidance, which is where the non-profit organization, WORK steps in. Based in Meneles, the poorest city in Haiti, WORK accompanies families out of poverty through good, dignified jobs. Moving from family to family, this organization sees the potential of every individual, and provides necessary resources to work towards sustainability, restoring human dignity. WORK breaks cycles of poverty by defining and treating root causes of problems Haitian families are faced with, whether it takes them 10 days or 10 years.
I will be challenging myself to a 7-day Ultramarathon run across the entire country of Haiti from north to south to raise resources and awareness for WORK as it continues to lift Haitian families out of poverty. I will cover a total of 200 miles over mountain ranges and through urban cores, starting in Cap Haitien and ending just south of Port-Au-Prince, in a town called Jacmel. Support me in raising money to donate to WORK and create a brighter future for Haitian families and all of humanity.