Thursday, January 12, 2012
Run for Roots is a new initiative that embodies the Roots of Hope mission by seeking to draw attention and collect funds in support of Cuban youth. The participants who will be running the Miami Half Marathon in January 2012 are motivated to do so by the desire to be agents of change and help empower youth on the island through innovative programs such Roots of Hope as Cells 4 Cuba and our Family Reunification Program. To learn more about Run for Roots, visit our website. To donate, visit our Crowdrise page.
Why I Run
By Maritza B. Aldir
Raw emotion. Humility. Truth. Hope. Hopelessness. Courage. Fear. Desire. Dream. Change. Passion. Happiness. Laughter. Intelligence. Selflessness. Helpless. Powerless. Motivation. Creativity. Innovation. Love. Kindness. Acceptance. Brilliance. Human rights. All of these words stream through my mind when I parallel my reality to the reality of people who aren’t free.
My motivation to run isn’t based on any politics, nor is it to wish for Cuba’s government officials to die one day. I could care less. It’s based on a human’s right to live without persecution for acting on the freedom of expression, the right to having liberty, the right to hope for change, the right to dream. The right to dream big, and speak freely of one’s dreams. It’s based on empowering youth to become their own authors of their own futures. I am my own author.
Most young people don’t care about the politics in Cuba. I don’t either, to be honest. The situation in Cuba is tiring, the struggles, the lack of empowerment, the lack of change, the lack of hope, and the lack of any promise for a future – for many. Some contently live their lives, turn their heads away from the government, and make the most of it. I think of others who take an open stance to disagree with the repressive government. I commend the courageous people who currently stand up to living their dreams, and dream to actualize living in a free Cuba. Still, even the general public hopes for some kind of ‘cambio’ (“change”) whether it is eventually living outside of Cuba or staying where they are and desiring some kind of change. This is truth. No one talks about it out of fear, but everyone thinks it.
I think of one guy I spoke with my age a few years ago. I was graduating at the time from Agnes Scott College, a premier liberal arts college I had chosen for undergrad whose mission is to “educate women to think deeply, live honorably and engage in the intellectual and social challenges of our times”. This young man lived in the outskirts of Cuba. I can still hear his voice, monotone at best. He sounded hopeless, as he explained his day-to-day of helping his dad care for their goats and chickens. That was his past, present and future. He explained he really didn’t think anyone outside of Cuba knew or cared about his existence, and was intrigued by my desire to know more about him. We ended the conversation laughing. I’ll never forget that call. After speaking to and hearing more youth echo this young man’s sentiment about their current situation and futures, I became broken inside. This is the country my parents were born and raised in, opted to flee from, and still carry a heavy burden inside that they’ve chosen never to speak of over 40 years later. Our worlds united for those singular moments chatting over the phone for that one moment through these insightful, silently tearful, funny and unforgettable conversations. But our realities were so opposite and poorly disconnected once we hung up the phones. They go back to their reality, and I go back to mine. I get to say what’s on my mind without wondering if I’m going to get in trouble with the government. I don’t need to go through a black market for things I need or want. I can live wherever I want, for the most part. I can discuss and disagree with my nation’s politics in an open forum. I can pick any career I want, and opt to work in what I study or not. I can make no income or a lot of income. I can listen to whatever music I want, anywhere and in public (for the most part). I can jump on a plane tomorrow. I can fabulously wine and dine. I can read anything my little heart desires. I don’t get hurt or get incarcerated when I think differently than others, or stand up for what I believe in. This is a human thing, not a Cuban thing. This is called human rights. Under the “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” as defined by the United Nations, Cuba has violated the articles defining a human's right to a basic, dignified life.
The above is why I’m running. I suddenly forget about the fact that my doctors have told me I “shouldn’t” run because of my severe asthma, and the fact that I’ve never really jogged more than a block in my lifetime prior to 2 months ago. Well, this girl who had several (embarrassing) ambulance visits during "P.E." (Physical Education) throughout middle school for attempting to run is now running, and I’m running for something that’s greater than me. It’s weird, but I’m a change maker in action. I defeated my own negative thoughts by struggling for my own freedom to own my health, and I've been able to tackle this challenge knowing that my “struggle to be free” is but a mere obstacle in comparison to the struggles of someone who lives in fear to speak their mind.
I’m running for the youth, and in memory of the late Laura Pollan—a hero who fought for her husband’s unjust incarceration all for dreaming and desiring for a different Cuba. Laura Pollan was fired as a schoolteacher as a result, and became the spokesperson for the “Las Damas de Blanco” (Ladies in White). She courageously stood in solitude in the streets of Cuba demanding her husband’s freedom alongside many others who continue to fight for their families to be free. They stand in solitude with peace and humility. stand in solitude with peace and humility. They embody the “foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” as depicted in “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” as written by the UN. For them, I run.
Donate to my run: www.crowdrise.com/mbaldir