Running With Refugees

Here’s a link to my 3rd published piece!.. and for my favorite non-profit, CWS.  For more information on CWS around the globe, please visit www.cwsglobal.org  🙂

http://cwsrdu.org/2013/04/09/running-with-refugees-a-volunteers-perspective/

RUNNING WITH REFUGEES

The anticipated cheer from the front-runners marked the start of The Great Human Race, in Durham, N.C. In the middle of the pack were our refugees from Chad and Sudan with some Church World Service volunteers. With broad smiles and a runners’ high, they were excited to take part in their first organized 5k race. Holding up the rear, representing with a CWS placard, were our walkers. Our red and yellow shirts showed the urgency of reuniting families escaping turmoil in their native countries.

Out of courtesy, all of the CWS runners started out at the same pace. But it didn’t take long before our two Sudanese men were no longer in eyesight! What’s my excuse not placing in the race? Someone needed to stay behind with our 10-year old from Chad 😉 His name was Job, as in the book in the Bible. With the heaviness of basketball shoes, he asks the question that’s been repeated by kids for decades, “We almost there yet???” Apparently, this spans past culture. With no mile markers to give us hope, I repeated the lie “Yeah, just around the corner… Ok, I think it’s after that building… Soon…” To take our mind off of the finish, we race to the tree, and then to the stop sign, and then the second parked car. Faintly, we hear the band playing in the distance, signaling that the end is near. Just ahead we see Job’s older brother, Janvier, coming back for us. With a few words from his big brother, Job picks up the pace and we challenge each other to a final sprint to the finish line, crossing at 39:40.

Patiently waiting at the end of the race, were our two speed racers, unfazed by the 3 miles they just polished. What they were more interested in knowing was the winner’s prize. As untimed runners (without a chip), we will never know what place they came in. But I am sure that we may be brewing some future racers!

The race finishes with a block party, and the dancing began as soon as the walkers made their way in. The refugees stood on the side studying the foreign movements the “Cha-Cha slide”, “The Electric slide” and the “Macarena”.  As predicted, dozens of runners jump in for these eternal tunes. As our foreigners nod along to the music, Berthe, Job’s mom, was the life of the party.  All smiles, she made her own dance that was better than the pattern the rest of the world has been following. This race has been such an enjoyable event for us as a group!

So after months of fundraising, I’m sure you’re wondering whether it has paid off.. Thanks to all of the donors and racers, Church World Service has raised $3,990! This means that you all have made it possible to reunite EIGHT more families like Job, Janvier, and Berthe.

If there are any last minute gifts to CWS, please make a check out to CWS-RDU with “Immigration” in the memo line. Checks can be sent to the office at 112 S. Duke Street, Suite 4B, Durham NC 27701.

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I need your help..

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The Great Human Race (5K)

FINALLY.. I’ve patiently waited an entire year to get outdoors and race, and I have chosen  The Great Human Race, as my first. This is a 5k-run/walk event that has been taking place in Durham, N.C. for 18 years. Each year, around 100 different nonprofits from the area get together to raise money. Each organization has their own “team” for the race and team members raise money for the organization. I’m participating to raise funds for team “Church World Service”. Over the past 65yrs, CWS has done great work with reunification, resettlement, and integration of refugees of all cultures and religions. By race day (April 6th, 2013), my goal, with your help, is to cover the expenses of 2 families ($500 each), by safely reuniting spouses and children in the United States.

A little more about the reunification program: CWS-RDU assists refugees and asylees who have seen their families torn apart by conflict. Some families are separated when a parent flees to a neighboring country, not wanting to risk bringing a spouse or children into a potentially dangerous future. In any case, the organization receives refugees here who are missing key parts of their families. Currently, CWS is working with one mother of 5 from Burma who is seeking to bring her husband to join her here in the US. Having the husband here will mean an additional earner in the home, more safety for the family, and a second parent for the children.

Video on CWS refugees:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUORjDoFm24&list=SPCBEF4FC5F8AFCBA5&index=3  

This event represents my passions as a runner, an international educator and a student of Diplomacy: International Conflict Management. With a friends’ list of family, fitness fanatics, teachers abroad, and fellow alumni, we can all relate to this cause. I ask that if each of you could simply donate $10, we could reach or surpass this goal. Reuniting families is a crucial part of what CWS does–it provides refugees with safety, stability, and a sense of home in the United States. This is a well-researched group that I have chosen to volunteer with this year, and I hope you would like to be a part of this process.

To Donate: https://thevolunteercenter.givebig.org/c/TBR/a/cwsrdu/p/Ashley

To learn more about CWS:  www.cwsglobal.org. and www.cwsrdu.org

Thanks again for your support.