From Australia to Afghanistan, Stuart and I are running ultramarathons around the world for a reason: WOMEN FOR AFGHAN WOMEN!
For years, women in Afghanistan suffered severe repression under Taliban rule. It has been over a decade since the Taliban was removed from power, and while some improvements have been made, there is still an immense need for greater protection, realization and advancement of women's rights in Afghanistan.
Women for Afghan Women (WAW) is just such an organization to help meet this need. WAW is a women's human rights organization based in Kabul and New York that was founded in April 2001, just six months before the 9/11 attack on the twin towers.
Shortly after I arrived in Afghanistan, I met with some of the brave women who work for WAW and who spend their days and nights fighting for the rights of the most vulnerable. I have learned about the programs they are fighting to run and the challenges they are up against. This is an organization I am personally involved in - and I'm urging you to show your support as well. I won't ask you to join me in Afghanistan... all I'm asking is for you to make a donation to help keep the important work of WAW going!
According to a recent report by UN Women, almost one-third of Afghan women are exposed to domestic violence and one-quarter suffer from sexual violence, usually by a family member. While visiting WAW, I heard stories of girls as young as 11 years old who were given to older males by their familes as a way of satisfying a family debt. In these situations, physical and mental abuse is not uncommon. These young women often suffer for years before finding a way to escape or worse, before suffering injuries that require immediate medical attention. I heard about one girl who was accused by her inlaws of not taking good enough care of her older husband, and was eventually shot in the back by a shotgun. Luckily, WAW was there to ensure that she received proper medical care and that she had a place to go to upon her recovery.
WAW provides, among other things, shelters for vulnerable women - those who have been victims of domestic violence, been abandoned by their families, or experienced other abuses. They give them with a safe place to stay, offer classes and training to improve their skills, and provide them with access to counselors and lawyers to assist with their particular cases. This is just one facet of the many programs and services WAW provides.
Training for an ultramarathon is difficult, and living under very tight security restrictions in Afghanistan, it is nearly impossible. I live inside a UN compound and walking around outside the compound's walls is strictly forbidden. As such, my training consists of running around in circles around parking lots, helipads, and apartment flats inside the compound. Some of my long runs have to be done at night in order to escape the heat. But knowing that it might help raise some funds and awareness for this organization and for the women of Afghanistan definitely helps!!
As part of the fundraising extravaganza, I completed a 250 km self-supported across the Gobi desert as part of the 4 deserts RacingThePlanet series from June 10-16 in China. This was my fifth RacingThePlanet event and I was lucky enough to place 2nd female and 11th overall! Then in August, I competed in the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, a 100 mile race through Italy Switzerland and France. Due to extreme weather conditions, the race was shortened to 104 km, but I battled on through and made it to the end after 19 hours of running straight!!
My most recent challenge was another 250 km self-supported race - this time, starting at the Grand Canyon. I ran the race with my amazing boyfriend, Stuart Blieschke... who is now embarking on a fundraising adventure of his own. Stuart will be competing in the Hong Kong Trailwalker in November - 100 km non-stop!
Please please please show your support for WAW by making a donation of any amount in support of our races!
Thanks again and we would love to hear from you!! You can reach any of us through my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or check out my blog! www.ultrarunnergirl.com
For more information, please feel free to email me or visit their website: http://www.womenforafghanwomen.org/.