angela 04-08-10

Claudia, Mercedes, and Carmen

By Angela Mathers
Contributing Writer

Five days a week, I pull on my sleek spandex; pull my hair back into a pony-tail, lace up my running shoes and head for the gym. I’ve never been considered an athlete, unless of course, one believes that marching band qualifies, and I never thought I’d be an athlete. I’m not sure that it’s completely sunk in yet, but I’m training for a marathon — to willingly run 26.2 miles for fun.

Well, I must be honest, it’s not completely for fun. It’s mostly in an effort to raise awareness and funds for an incredible family. I like to think of myself as a crafty and creative person and I’ve worked to integrate that part of my identity into my life as an activist.

Upon returning from my last stay in Guatemala in May 2009, I knew I wanted to do something more; something that would have a lasting impact on a family. I thrive on personal connections and I made many while briefly serving in Guatemala but, I had an urge to give back in a bigger way. That’s when I decided that I would run a marathon in effort to raise funds to build a home for an incredible family in Guatemala.

The mental preparation spanned most of the fall of 2009, slowly preparing myself to have the mental stamina to push myself for hours at a time on a treadmill located in a stuffy gym. I didn’t know what marathon I’d run or where it’d be. I just committed myself to the endeavor.

When I recently requested a family biography for the home I was raising funds for, I was overwhelmed with the reality that my selected family was in dire need of a safe haven. You see, the family that was selected for me currently lives in a garbage dump. They pick bottles from the rubble and trash and then recycle them, often earning only a few cents a day. There are three incredible young girls and one infant boy living with their mother and enduring this difficulty.

It has been a year since the organization that I work closely with in Guatemala, Nuestros Ahijados, spent months working to pull the young women from the grips of poverty and potential prostitution. After incredible determination and negotiation, the organization made it possible for the girls to attend school at the project.

The girls, Claudia, Mercedes and Carmen are now thriving and succeeding at their studies and the organization is ready to take the next step: provide them a home of their own that will be a refuge from the chaotic world around them.

This is where we come in. I am running hundreds of miles in preparation for the marathon that I will run on May 8. I wanted to take something that I know I can do, run, and pair it with something that can change lives; building a shelter for a desperately needy family. I’m collecting pledges for each mile that I successfully run.

For example, if a person pledges $1 per mile and I finish the race on May 8, then that person would donate $26.20 and 100 percent of that contribution would go directly to the cost of building the home. Of course, other amounts are also encouraged. I have raised $2,000 thus far and need to raise another $2,000 quickly if I am to succeed in my effort to build the home.

This family, Maria, Claudia, Carmen and baby Ernesto have the potential to succeed in all they do. I’m asking you to help me create change, one step at a time.

For more information, please visit my blog site at http://www.impactthepresent.weebly.com

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