My hope is to use this race as a vehicle to raise money for a cause that is very close to my heart. As most of you know, I have travelled abroad and spent time volunteering at Monica Memorial Center for Development in Naivasha, Kenya.
In short, Monica Memorial is a school that caters to the very needy children in the local area. The kids don't actually live there but are brought in and cared for various reasons. Most are orphans, some we’re born HIV positive and all are extremely poor. Some lost their families from political violence, HIV, abuse, etc. About 60 kids go to school there from nursery (kindergarten) to class 2. After they pass 2nd grade they normally move on to a public school but come back to Monica at lunch time to get fed - typically their only meal of the day. The entire place is run by volunteers and donations. Exams are standardized so the kids are getting a real education - most speak English fairly well since most of volunteers who come in speak English. Their curriculum consists of Math, Science, English, Social, Religion, and Kiswahili. You wouldn't believe how smart some of the kids are!
The beautiful thing about the school is that you would never be able to tell what the kids are going through at home by the way they act at school. I know there are a lot of negative views on the subject of volunteering abroad as a Westerner on these types of missions. Many claim it’s a waste of resources, it’s selfish, not really helping, etc. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but for me personally after spending time with the children, the staff and school director, I have come to learn the appreciation the locals have of volunteers who come from abroad. Over and above the education the children are provided, they are afforded a place of refuge and rehabilitation from the realities they face at home, which is just as important.
They are so eager to learn and are genuinely happy to see you in the morning and sad at the end of the day. Needless to say it was an eye-opener. The fact that these kids were afforded even the slightest chance to succeed - a place where they can be safe was amazing to me and definitely changed my life...
On top of all of this, Monica Memorial, my host family and the country of Kenya in general has provided me with my own place of refuge for which I will forever be grateful. I ventured into Kenya as a volunteer in 2012 not knowing what to expect. Little did I know I’d find some of the most loving and caring people I’ve ever met who welcomed me as part of their family. The start of 2014 proved to be one of the toughest challenges I’ve ever had to face. I learned life can be pretty ruthless at times and its important sometimes to just take a step back, slow down, and reflect. Without hesitation I knew where I needed to be and I never looked back. So for that, I feel the need to give back all that I can.
My goal is to raise $4220 ($100 for every kilometer I will be running on race day – 42.2km). I know with your help, I’ll be able to reach my goal and be able to make a real difference in the lives of Monica Memorial.
There are many ways that this money can be used, and it is my intention to dictate exactly where the money should go based on the assessments I have made in collaboration with the staff and director of Monica Memorial. I believe the main goal should be to invest in initiatives that will help them become more self-sufficient and less reliant on a steady stream of donations to survive. This means income-generating projects and investments in usable land. I know $4220 won’t change the world, but my hope is that it can push them in the right direction towards these initiatives. If I can reach my goal, I intend to personally deliver the funds distribute them accordingly**.
**Note: this money will NOT be used as a means to send myself to Kenya. Every single cent will go directly to the school itself.**
I am running and doing all of this on behalf of all of those who cannot, especially for my Dad who passed away earlier this year. It was him who instilled selflessness and putting needs of others ahead of my own. In exchange for your donations I vow to train as hard as possible and represent each and every one of you on race day and make you all proud. Thank you all so much for reading and I look forward to your support through my training and on race day!
Note: donations can be made through my gofundme.com page or through offline, in person donations. I do encourage the offline donations as it bypasses the fees associated with gofundme. Unfortunately tax receipts will not be available at this time. However, plans to start a registered non-profit is in the works! ☺
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