Today is International Women's Day, and given that it is the perfect day to announce that I have officially volunteered to be a part of an INCREDIBLE organization.
I recently heard about Girls Gotta Run and instantly knew that it was a cause I wanted to be involved in. Girls Gotta Run helps support and empowers Ethiopian women runners and their communities.
Do you know that today, in 2013, in Ethiopia, a girl has a better chance of dieing in child birth than she does reaching the sixth grade?
Do you know that still today, in 2013, young girls in Ethiopia are often forced into childhood marriage, and exchanged for cattle?
Do you know that Ethiopia is one of the world's poorest countries - with a population of around 80 million people, almost half of who are living in abject poverty?
Girls Gotta Run is helping young women in Ethiopia pursue their running dreams, and at the same time helping them to find pride, self-respect, confidence, a sense of well-being and personal power. While most of the girls do not become professional athletes, some of them do, and training allows the girls to stay in school, avoid early marriage, and to enhance their personal economic opportunities. The girls also become role models in their communities to other women and younger girls.
Material support provided by Girls Gotta Run includes but is not limited to funds for running shoes, training clothes, food/proper nutrition, coach subsidies, and other training-related expenses. GGRF also advises local and partnering organizations on gender sensitive issues and advocates for gender equity in all running programs and organizations.
The female athletes in Ethiopia that have been supported by Girls Gotta Run Foundation (which was started in 2006) have been reaching their educational, athletic and individual goals.
This is an organization that I feel SO excited and passionate about being involved with. I have four children who were born in Ethiopia. I have spent many weeks in Ethiopia and I truly love the people and the culture. It is a beautiful place filled with beautiful people, who despite living in very challenging and often heart-breaking conditions, have a will, determination, and grace that you don't often see elsewhere.
Working for years in adoptions in Ethiopia I have seen first-hand how poverty and lack of opportunity is a reality for so very much of the population, but especially so for girls and women.
I have been blessed to always live a very comfortable life. I have never gone without food or shelter. My children and I have always had access to excellent education. We have always had doctors, medication, hospitals, and medical care available to us. And yet even for me, becoming a runner was an incredibly empowering thing. When I discovered my love of running, I also discovered confidence, strength, joy, and balance in my life. Running helped me find a part of myself... a part that is athletic,
strong, tough, brave, determined, and confident...a part of me that I
didn't know existed. Every day running betters my body, mind and soul.
Imagine what that could do for young women in Ethiopia. Girls Gotta Run is giving them the opportunities to chase after their running dreams, but also to give them the opportunity to find strength, confidence, and pride that will carry through their entire lives, the lives of their families, and the lives of their communities.
Running is powerful. Women are powerful. Running and women is an awesomely powerful combination.
When I brought my children home from Ethiopia I left a piece of my heart there and I have always looked for ways to stay connected and to give back to a place and people that I love. For a time that was by advocating for special needs orphans and helping them find families. Since my job doing that ended I have been looking for another opportunity, and as soon as I stumbled upon Girls Gotta Run, I knew I had found something I wanted to be involved in.
Go check out their website. Look at the pictures of the girls whose lives are being empowered and changed for the better. Imagine yourself, or your daughters, living with so few opportunities for education, health, and quality of life.
We are looking into partnering with major marathons as an official charity, setting up booths at expos, arranging a direct sponsorship program and other exciting things (so lots more info will be coming), but for now please help me spread the word by sharing the link to this post, and on this International Women's Day, please consider making a donation to Girls Gotta Run.
Even a small amount can make a huge difference.
$10 provides one sport shirt for one girl
$15 provides one pair of shorts or pants
$20 provides transportation for one month for one athlete to and from training and race sites
$25 provides extra food (calorie money) for one athlete for one month
$30 provides one sports uniform for one athlete
$50 provides one pair of running shoes
$60 provides an entire month’s food for one athlete for one month
$75 provides one pair of shoes and one sports outfit for one girl
$100 provides one coach’s subsidy for 3 months (for part time work)
$100 provides an athlete the opportunity to travel to domestic competitions
$500 sponsors an athlete for a year
One of my favorite things about the running community is how so many encourage and support each other. That's what Girls Gotta Run is all about.
You can donate online here.
You can find them on Facebook here.
And you can watch a beautiful (only two minutes!) video that shows a tiny bit of what Girls Gotta Run is doing for young female runners in Ethiopia by clicking here.
I am excited to be a part of Girls Gotta Run. Please help spread the word.