Monday, February 16, 2009

Run for India 2009

Last week was a busy one, and the weekend was even more packed with activity. So I haven't been checking the blogs I usually read, or been able to compose new posts ... will hopefully catch up on that soon.

Sunday, Feb 15th was the day of the Austin Marathon & Half Marathon. Our team from the Association for India's Development (AID) runs this race every year as a fundraiser. This year, seventeen of us participated - eleven volunteers ran the half marathon, and six ran the full.



Over the past few months, Saturday mornings have been exactly the same: wake up at 6am, get to Lady Bird Lake (see my post about the lake) by 7:00 or 7:30am, and run the prescribed distance for the week. Some days were beautiful, and running was a pleasure. Other days were cold, windy and miserable, and running was really painful. But it all paid off on Sunday, coz all of us had a good run.

R and I ran the half this year, since we had lots of injuries after running the full marathon last year. It was a perfect day on Sunday, partly cloudy and cool. The 13.1 miles seemed pretty easy after having done the 26.2 miles last year on Austin's hilly course.



Our bright yellow team t-shirts stand out in the crowd (I designed these last year).



This run is the biggest fundraiser for our volunteer group each year, and the training program is called Run for India. Runners raise money through their run, for supporting projects in rural India that are sustainable and holistic in their approach:

"AID is a volunteer movement committed to promoting sustainable, equitable and just development. In solidarity with non-violent people's struggles, AID supports grassroots organizations in India and initiates efforts in various interconnected spheres such as education, livelihoods, natural resources, health, women's empowerment and social justice."

The idea is to learn from our project partners on the ground, and have study groups where we try and understand the issues behind the realities that exist on the ground. As a result, we learn a tremendous amount from our NGO partners in India.

I coordinate two projects (with NGOs Kalpavriksh in Delhi, and Exnora Green Cross in Vellore), both of them related to environmental issues, since that is what interests me. I serve as the link between these two NGO partners and our group so that we can learn as much as possible about the issues - social, political and scientific, that relate to the projects that we support.

It is work that has taught me so much more than I have been able to contribute. Our group of runners are all volunteers - students as well as professionals. The energy and excitement in this group is awesome, and now that we have raised some money, it is time to invest it in some deserving projects on the ground in India!



Hope your week is going well.

22 comments:

Shayla said...

How inspiring! I agree. This is a worthy project. Your group has figured out something really important when they decided to get informed directly from the source. It's easy to assume we know how to fix someone's problem, but can be such a frustration on the receiving end if we don't bother to get the facts. Keep up the good work and Woohoo! your energy and excitment is contagious.

Sydney said...

wow -- everyone wins from this race. The organization sounds just wonderful. I am wondering how much money you need to raise to feel you can do something... how far does it go over there?

I know what you mean about intending to serve and getting so much more out of it... but that's the cool thing about giving!

I wondered where you were, and if something was wrong with my dash because your posts don't come up (there may still be). I have had to do less reading and commenting, and less posting in the last 5 weeks... it's hard to catch up! Glad you decided to do a half this year. I feel like I remember reading about last year!!! Is that possible?

ArtSparker said...

Congratulations on the run and fund-raising. 13 miles sounds like plenty to me. Do you hear about what happens with the projects after the funds go to India?

bindu said...

Shayla - you're so right. The idea that we operate with is that people on the ground there understand the issues much better than we can from over here. So we learn from them, and help them take the action they want to take.

Sydney - how much support each project requires varies, and some get non-monetary support as well. I had posted in December about the Decker half that our group ran during training. That's probably what you remember!

ArtSparker - Thanks. Yes, we stay in close contact with the NGO via email/phone, and often this turns into a long term friendship even after the project period ends. We visit the project when we go to India, and get regular updates on the progress. So it's a lot more than just funding that we do. Thanks for your interest!

Indrani said...

You are doing so much for India! It was very inspiring reading the events. Wish you all success!

3rdEyeMuse said...

Congratulations! and Well Done!!

you inspire me to do MORE.

thank you.

Nancy and the fatties said...

Bindu, what a terrific cause! You are so multifaceted. I am a supporter of Doctors Without Borders and work for a medical nonprofit here in the states. Hats off to you for your dedication and hard work and congrats on the half marathon, it sounds like you had a beautiful day!

Jarlin said...

Good one...Keep going.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Congratulations Bindu! It is very energizing to read about this and inspirational - thank you for sharing.

~ ॐ ~ said...

How can I participate with the organizations?

namaki said...

Well Well ! you had a good run ! and I bet you enjoy walking from the post about your hiking in South America !

painter girl said...

You are amazing!
And so inspiring. Congratulations on your run.
You make me want to do more!

meb said...

An inspiring post bindu. It makes me want to do something for someone else. Thanks for the post.

bb mcclain said...

It's wonderful that you can find time for a worthy cause. Congratulations bindu.

bindu said...

Indrani, 3rdEyeMuse - thanks!

Nancy - that is a great cause to support!

Jarlin, Raph - thanks.

Om - just go to www.aidindia.org and see if there is a chapter in your city. If not, start one! :)

Namaki - you're right. I do!

Painter girl, Meb, bb - thanks. :)

Don Madden said...

Congratulations!

Mridula said...

Wonderful effort Bindu.

Chris said...

Bindu, I am always so happy to see efforts like yours under way. I would love to hear more. P.S. I'm glad you both stayed healthy for the race.

~vagabond~ said...

What an inspiring post!...congratulations on both the run and the funds raised. :)
Is there a way for non-Austin people to get involved with the organization?

Robyn said...

Bindu, you are an inspiration!Well done!

Barbara Martin said...

Your participation in such a worthy project is inspiring, even if I cannot run anymore.

Helping those in less fortunate situations gets my praise.

Vamsee said...

Your passion for AID India comes across in the post. I hope you raised enough money through the run to finance your projects. Keep up the good work. I have been wanting to volunteer in AID for a while now. Your post is a wake up call. I will check and see if they have a group in Navi Mumbai.