Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why Run for Roots? Part 9

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 do we run?

By Elena Castañeda

I won’t tell a lie, running is hard. Physically, running long distances takes its toll on your feet, legs and muscles. It’s hard to get yourself to run – whether it’s for a short jog, or a full marathon. Running in the heat, or the extreme cold, or rain, makes it even more tiresome.

Yet, why do runners run? Because running strengthens the soul. Running gives individuals a sense of resolve and determination that is nearly impossible to replicate. Working towards a finish line, a goal, empowers the mind, let alone the body.

The transformation that the Run for Roots athletes are undergoing through running echoes the transformation we seek to achieve in Cuba. Among our generation, a transformation is imminent…change is slow, but it is coming.

Cuban youth today are growing up in an environment where no one has achieved their dreams. Education, hard work and hope has led to physicians driving taxis and lawyers serving as barbers. The biggest dream among Cubans of my generation is to escape, to leave Cuba, to where opportunities abound. We, by contrast, are extraordinarily lucky to live in a world where we are told, from the moment we walk into school, “Follow your dreams. The sky’s the limit.”

What can we do to help our counterparts in Cuba plant the seeds of empowerment? We can help grow a sense of community. Roots of Hope seeks to cultivate a community of Cubans who freely share information, build bonds, and support each other as they begin to tentatively share their plans for the future.

Slowly, by facilitating the creation of ties between individuals through technology such as cell phones, we can begin to capitalize on the small freedoms that are beginning to spring in Cuba. For example, it is now legal to hold a number of different entrepreneurial roles in Cuba.

Cuban entrepreneurs are the future of Cuba. And those entrepreneurs are my generation, the generation that hasn’t yet lost hope. Let’s help them connect with each other and transform themselves, their businesses, their communities. This is the key to real, lasting change – change we desperately need. And if running one mile can help them get one inch closer – then I’ll happily run 13 miles, and more.

No comments: