A 5k run is to be held in Hyde Park on 11 September to raise vital funds to support women in the Democratic Republic of Congo -dubbed the “rape capital of the world”- so they can rebuild their lives after atrocities of war. Participants will be running alongside founder of Run for Congo Women, Lisa Shannon. You can register to join the team here for £15.
Former Run for Congo Women supporter Leanne Mascoll says:
Before my contact with Women for Women International I was painfully ignorant to the horrific conditions facing women in the Congo today. After a friend of mine became involved with the organisation and told me about the amazing work that their programs do in educating and bettering the lives of these women and their families, I was keen to participate in the April 2011 Run for Congo Women.
Although eager to make a difference in these women’s lives I was dubious about my chances of a) raising any money at all and b) managing to complete the race, (put it this way, I am no gym bunny).
Faced with cash strapped friends and family, I was worried about reaching the £150 target suggested by Women for Women. However, the charity provided excellent support and advice on practical ways to raise money. By setting up a Just Giving account, which I posted to my Facebook page and sent around the internal email at my part time employment, as well as pinning a traditional pen and paper sponsorship to the staff notice board, I was able to exceed my £150 target. I found that once people were aware that 100% of the money donated was going directly into programmes in the Congo, the life changing effect that this would have and that I wasn’t expecting them to empty their savings account they were eager to support the cause.
This still left me with the obstacle of running the race. Being a final year student, I did not have a lot of time to train. Arriving at Regents Park on the morning of the run it was easy to spot other Congo runners and once I was wearing my Run for Congo Women T-shirt I felt I felt like I was part of the team. Speaking to other runners revealed that many of us were in the same boat, (fitness wise), which was comforting. Fun isn’t a word that I would ordinarily associate with running 10 kilometres but being part of this event was just this. Taking the run at my own pace and being able to see other Congo runners on my way around the course made the distance manageable and crossing the finishing line was truly fulfilling.
The daily plight of Women in the Congo dwarfs the tiny hurdles I faced in taking part in Run for Congo Women. Rather than focusing on these I would encourage anyone to take part and make a real difference to these women’s lives.
All those who raise over £500 will receive a free signed copy of Lisa Shannon’s book, A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman.
Photo of previous participants provided by Women for Women.