Shillong, November 5, 2016: Australian ultra marathon runner Samantha Gash, on a mission to raise awareness about the multiple barriers to access education in India, on Saturday ended her 12-week run here that started in Jaisalmer .
Kicking off on August 22, Samantha, 31, has run over 3,000 kms from one of the driest deserts in Jaisalmer to the east of India, ending in Shillong, which is one of the wettest places in the world.
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As part of the Run India campaign — Samantha, who is also a passionate advocate for social change — visited 18 World Vision India’s Area Development Projects across the country and got the opportunity to delve deeper into the challenges facing Indian communities.
She crossed eight states in 12 weeks. This 12-week challenge also invited runners and walkers of all ages from across the world to form their own teams, track the distances they have crossed and match it against Samantha’s.
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“I feel privileged to have been able to run across India and use it as an opportunity to experience how other people live. It’s one thing to hear about India’s diversity and richness of culture, but it’s another thing to be able to immerse yourself in it,” Samantha said in a release.
“The focus of this project isn’t about running a large distance across India. For me, it’s been a chance to identify how individuals and the community can come together to overcome adversity,” the Melbourne-based runner added.
Samantha has raised a little over Rs.70,86,000 till now for World Vision’s projects working in the areas of malnutrition, access to water and sanitation, child marriage and gender bias, which all present major obstacles to quality education.
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“The community visits are some of the most powerful moments along this journey that allowed me to connect the dots between what I observed every day during the run. I was inspired by the strength of women I met in Pauri and Lucknow, women who rallied their community together to devise initiatives to support those in need and establish small businesses,” she said.
“I was also confronted by my visit to a malnutrition clinic in Alwar. Here I met ill babies and saw their mothers deal with life and death issues relating to food security, lack of education and resources. It has been powerful to see how the smallest things can help but empowering to realise how much more needs to be done.” (IANS)