They have a saying in Mozambique: Estamos Juntos--We are Together.
Meet Mark Goldfarb. He is living Estamos Juntos.
In 2010, Mark joined the Peace Corps and was stationed in Mozambique teaching math and preparing students for science fairs. But all that changed.
On December 20, 2011, he and four fellow volunteers—Mary Lager, Derek Roberts, Lena Jenison and Alden Landis—were returning from a day at the beach and accepted a ride from a local passerby for the 10 mile trip back to Macia. Although there were several people already in the minivan, they climbed in and secured themselves as best they could; only Derek had access to a seat belt. The driver sped off and began racing to the city. Too fast; at one point the speedometer read 90 mph. Derek asked the driver to slow down, which he did but only for a short time. He soon pressed down on the accelerator again and within moments lost control. The minivan flew off the road and started rolling. Mark was ejected from the car; he survived along with Derek and Mary. But tragically, Lena and Alden died.
Mark was badly injured: a severe cut and concussion to his head and seven fractured vertebrae, plus numerous painful scrapes and bruises. It’s a miracle he was alive, and perhaps a blessing that he doesn’t remember the accident. Due to his head contusion, amnesia wiped away the previous five days of his memory. His first recollection was the faces of his mother and sister, who came in from the United States and told him what happened. His recovery began with their loving support.
After three weeks in a South African hospital, Mark returned to his home in Lexington, Kentucky. He convalesced and began physical therapy. Exercise became his mantra; the doctors had said he survived because he was in good shape and that it would greatly aid his recovery. He joined a gym and began walking a track. Six weeks later he was well enough to relocate to Denver, Colorado, to live with his sister.
“I started working and working out at Pura Vida seven months after the accident and could hardly run half a mile without significant pain,” explains Mark. “About a year later two of my co-workers and I signed up for the Boulder Spring Half Marathon. With lots of help from my friends at Pura Vida, I reached my goal of running it in under eight minutes per mile.“
Now, Mark is supersizing Estamos Juntos. He’s going to run a full marathon to raise money for Water For People and honor his friends and fellow volunteers Lena and Alden. “I think about these two amazing individuals daily,” he says. “And I feel some survivor’s guilt, so this is an attempt to turn that guilt into something positive.”
Why Water For People?
“I’m raising money for Water For People because I believe it’s a basic human right that every person in the world have access to clean water,” explains Mark. “After living in Mozambique, I saw how many people live in absolute poverty, which means they do not have their basic needs met. I also observed many development organizations whose goal was not being obtained because of the misallocation of resources."
“On May 18, 2014, I will run the Colfax Marathon in honor of Lena Jenison and Alden Landis who gave their lives while serving as volunteers with the Peace Corps. These two were only three months into what should have been a two year journey of growth and giving,” says Mark. “My goal is to raise $100,000, which may seem unattainable, but I fully believe that with your help and support we can achieve that.”
Join Mark in Estamos Juntos. Donate or start a fundraising campaign at his Crowdrise page, follow him on Facebook, and share this journey with your friends, family, and colleagues.
(Thank you to Dan Klinglesmith for writing this!)
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