Did you know that in Kenya, each year of secondary school will raise a woman’s eventual wages by 15 to 25%? Did you know that girls with a high school education have, on average, 2.2 fewer children? Did you know that women invest 90% of their wages back into their families, as opposed to 30 % for men? And did you know that less than 2% of every development dollar goes towards girls? The education of girls, which Nike has dubbed "The Girl Effect", both helps them to realize their potential and begins a virtuous circle that fights against poverty. Now you know.
On May 20th, for the 101th anniversary of Bay to Breakers, 104 students from high schools across the Bay Area will race 12 K to celebrate Daraja Academy, a school in Kenya designed to ease poverty through educating talented girls to become leaders through secondary school. I am proud to return after a successful race for the original 77 person team last spring.
On the same day, 10,000 miles across the globe, the 104 Daraja students will run the same distance. My partner is 14 year old Fatuma Ibrihim, from the Somali tribe in Wamba, a dry, dusty bush town at the base of the Matthews Range Mountains in Northern Kenya. After she and her three siblings were orphaned at a young age, Famuta sought solace from the turmoil in her life through working hard in school. Fatuma's life path was set to make her another statistic. Fortunately, she received a four year scholarship from Daraja Academy... a twist in her fate that will not only change the course of her future but that of her future children. Now, she is an outgoing student who makes friends easily, has a big smile, and keeps everyone at Daraja in stiches with her jokes.
So, why choose to support this cause through running? For nine seasons, I have spent sixteen hours every week with a close-knit group of the craziest kids out there: those who choose to run… for fun. I have found strength through camaraderie. After races, no matter how exhausted, I return to the course to cheer others through the finish. Tangible drops in times after grueling workouts motivate us to challenge each other to bust out that extra mile in practice. Because so much of the sport is mental, I’ve learned to use enthusiasm to build up and motivate others, acknowledging or gently using humor to guide. I have thrived where energy, love, and just enough folly to keep things interesting abound. My team stretches and hurts together, challenges and cheers for each other, and shares the joy of accomplishment. Running with them has imparted confidence as I realize that despite my nerves, I know what to do in a race and can run alongside anyone without fear. I’ve learned to trust myself and my friends and to carry the spirit of the runner to everything I do. I can very honestly say that running has changed my life for the better. Last year, I ran the Bay to Breakers race for Hadija Hussein Abullahi. And this year, I am running for Fatuma, to show her and her fellow students the same support I show my teammates here and to give them the chance to forge a life for themselves.
I know that I live a charmed life for reasons largely due to chance, and I wish to use the talents I possess to let my friends in Africa know that our heart and thoughts are with them. The Daraja Race for 77 helps girls to help support themselves and their communities, but they need your help. You have the power to change a girl's future. YOU can be involved in this by sponsoring my race! Any help at all would be greatly appreciated, and each donation, no matter the size, makes a world of difference. Thank you so much for your time and your interest.
May you have air in your lungs, life in your legs, the wind at your back, and wings on your feet.
Visit http://daraja-academy.org/race-daraja-team-page/ for more details!