For several weeks now, The Forsaken Children (TFC) has and continues to promote the Run Your Street 5K. This is a virtual 5K event that helps to raise awareness and funding for the work TFC pursues to help combat and provide for the thousands of street children living in Ethiopia, Africa. The virtual Run Your Street 5K event is held in response to the annual street race for street children organized by The Forsaken Children’s Ethiopian team in Addis Ababa. The participants of the Run Your Street 5K in the United States and around the world, walk or run their 3.1 miles to support the children of Ethiopia. Not only do they raise funds through their registration fee, but also pray for the street children as they walk or run. Additionally, the participants that choose to provide a photo of their race will give another gift to be shared with the children running in Ethiopia [the photos] to encourage the kiddos in their own race and say, “you’re not alone and cared for by many”. This is the third year and we are excited to see what God does through the event. But some might be thinking . . . why a race? What’s the point?
Why a race? What’s the point?
Sometimes it is almost impossible for us to imagine, especially for those in the United States, children living on the streets. What does that look like? No parents standing by. No guardians calling them home to clean up and eat dinner. No older teenage sibling watching out for them around the corner. No safe place to lay their head at night. No certainty of food for the day, but what is begged for, found, or purchased from begging or stealing as necessary. No parental or adult rules except those “guidelines” the streets require for survival. No, the reality is that children actually live on the streets of Ethiopia – and many other countries around the world – unprotected, neglected, discarded, and often ignored.
Fending for themselves, begging, stealing, scavenging for the next meal and provision of rest, a child cannot be a child when living on the streets.
One of the most significant things taken from a child when they live on the streets is their innocence and child-likeness. Fending for themselves, begging, stealing, scavenging for the next meal and provision of rest, a child cannot be a child when living on the streets. To play uninhibited, as a child, is rarely attainable on the streets . . . too many risks, too many threats. No security of a loved one watching nearby, keeping them safe, as they play. No, street children are required to “grow up” quickly on the streets . . .
BUT, this summer, for the third year in a row, thanks to the awesome members of The Forsaken Children Ethiopian team, hundreds of street children and children at-risk will claim a section of streets in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to run a very special race.
The street children and children at-risk will RUN FOR FUN. UNINHIBITED. SAFE. SECURE.
Crowds will watch them. Strangers will cheer them on. As a result, the people in the crowds will see these children differently. The children will see themselves differently . . .
VALUABLE – AMAZING – SPIRITED – WINNERS . . . CHILDREN!
So that’s the answer . . . why a race? Because it provides a true opportunity for some of the street children of Ethiopia to be a child in safety. To give the street children a chance for their community to see them for a moment as God sees them . . . valuable, amazing, spirited, winners, . . . children that should be called to come “home” and loved.
Written by Heather McGugan - Board Chair, and forever changed by seeing and ministering to children living on the streets of Ethiopia.