Tuesday, August 31, 2010
I am often asked why not just run a marathon here and send more money to Haiti. It would seem to many that monies used to travel to Haiti would be better used if sent directly to the organizations we are currently supporting. I hope to change peoples understanding toward the benefit of a “relational” ministry as opposed to simply sending a check. The 20 participants traveling to Haiti in January 2011 will have an opportunity to meet the children and adults we are serving. In addition, the community of Ouanaminthe will have the chance to meet and embrace the runners and volunteers who participating in this event. This “partnership” is extremely important and I feel is often overlooked. There is simply no value one can put on forming relationships within an organization that hopes to continue helping to educate children. This inaugural Ouanaminthe Marathon is not your typical 26.2 race. We have all agreed to run this as a “run of solidarity” for the cause at hand. Regardless of what pace we have completed in the past, we plan to run together as much as possible. We anticipate children in the community running along side of us during small stretches of the total distance. We understand we will be coming from winter weather into the challenging heat of the Caribbean. This run is not about us, it’s about them, the children of Ouanaminthe. We have a $50,000 goal. At this point we have raised $7000. We are not discouraged by this current total as we agree that every dollar raised is a gift from our supporters. Our main goal is to bring attention to the need for better education in Haiti. In a country often described as extremely dependent, we hope to help them to begin raising a generation of Haitian children who can embrace the independence they so eagerly desire. We currently have 11 runners confirmed to run this event. Having met with the Mayor of Ouanaminthe, he insists there will be several Haitian participants eager to join us. We will be hosting a small track and field day during our time in Ouanaminthe in which the people of the community will have an opportunity to win small prizes. This is very exciting to us! Combined participation at whatever level, further supports the idea of partnership. We are intentionally avoiding any type of superior approach, and simply offering to support the efforts already in place to see the children of Haiti receive the education they desire. The course is a 15 kilometer loop. We will have to adjust accordingly to make it 26.2 give or take a few points. Accuracy is not a priority to us. It would be silly to say the run is flat since even well paved roads in Ouanaminthe are few and far between. This route will mirror a more trail like run. This run will offer the hustle and bustle of the city of Ouanaminthe, the friendly surroundings of the suburbs, as well as the beauty and splendor of the countryside. With the exception of one small hill in this loop, there are very little climbs to write home about. I think our biggest challenge will be preventing sprained ankles on the very uneven terrain of the route. We anticipate temperatures in the 60 degree range during our 6 am start and somewhere in the 80 degree range at our finish. We have two trucks which have been assigned to follow runners to offer liquids and gels when needed. There is little to no shade during the route, which we are fully aware of, however any plans to run this for time have been put aside to make this more about the kids we are serving. Ouanaminthe is in the North East part of Haiti directly on the border of the Dominican Republic. It is home to approximately 100,000 people, but since the January earthquake, has seen a steady increase in population as the displaced find new areas to call home. Our team is traveling for a total of six days. We will spend three and a half days in Haiti and the remainder of the time traveling in and out through the Dominican Republic. Our food and lodging needs are being cared for by one of the schools we are supporting. Each runner has been responsible for paying all of their own travel, food, and lodging costs in addition to raising support toward our $50,000 goal. While many of the runners may be encouraged to being helping transform the educational conditions of children in this community, I think they will be very surprised at how transforming this trip will be to them personally. In a country where struggle and challenge are an everyday part of life, one thing you will not see is discouragement. The people of Haiti are strong in spirit and simply put… filled with Joy. It is a country which teaches us volumes about how dependent we have become on “things” to make us happy. Here one can learn to find delight in having little. Still, one can’t help being affected by the lack of food, water, shelter, and education facing children and adults on a daily basis. Compassion is defined as being aware of anothers suffering and DOING something about it. I want to move people beyond empathy to compassion. I would love to say these runners will be forever changed by the people they meet, the children they hold, and the community the serve alongside. If you feel moved to support this cause, please do so. We need your help.