It is very rare in life to come across people who literally put their heart into what they do for a living. Fortunately, I have got one such friend called Reshma who is not only a warm pot of joy, but a true warrior when it comes to the business of helping people. But what makes one stop for a while and think, “I want to be a humanitarian?” Well, this is how Reshma discovered her passion as an aid worker.
Reshma: When I was young, I wanted to be a cardiac surgeon. My dad had a heart condition, and I wanted to grow up and help people like him… but then before he passed away, I started to get some averse reaction to seeing blood, so that plan definitely was not going to work! I still wanted to help people, and when I was in high school, someone told me about the life of an aid worker – I was hooked! Knowing that there are millions out there who need a helping hand. We have all been put on this earth as ONE humanity, and it is our responsibility to lend that helping hand, no matter how tough that can get!
So what has Reshma been up to lately?A marathon! But not just any other marathon. This year, Reshma has signed-up for the #Dead2Red marathon where she will be running with her team from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea. She tells us more about the marathon:
Reshma: So it’s actually an annual event, the Dead 2 Red Marathon, a relay event suitable for amateurs and athletes of all ages and genders without restriction. The marathon stretches 242 kilometres from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea. It starts at an altitude of 415 metres below sea level and leads up through the Arabian Desert reaching an altitude of 120 metres above sea level before descending towards the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba at the Red Sea.
Quite a brave challenge it is to be running from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea! What would make Reshma leave her comfy desk in Nairobi to take-on such a challenging task?
Reshma: This year, the date of the race coincides with the three year anniversary of the Syria Crisis. CARE International is running this marathon to raise awareness and funds for the plight of the more than 2.5 million refugees in the region and the more than 6.5 million people who remain displaced within Syria’s borders. As a lot of the media remains focused the on military clashes and the political efforts toward resolving this crisis, CARE urges the world to not forget the humanitarian needs of more than ten million people. We want to raise awareness by putting a human face on this crisis and by showing our solidarity. Our goal in running this marathon is to raise 50,000 US Dollars for the Syria Response in Jordan and Lebanon.
To accomplish such a great task, Reshma needs a great team to run with her from sea to sea to show solidarity for refugees in Syria. How will she do it?
Reshma: The CARE team consists of CARE staff working in Jordan, Lebanon and Kenya, as well as five Syrian refugees who themselves are volunteers in CARE’s urban refugee centres. In total, our international team consists of 10 members hailing from the USA, Portugal, Kenya, Germany, Jordan and Syria. The Syrian refugees on the team are former engineers, teachers, graphic designers and students. They all volunteer with CARE to support and serve fellow Syrian refugees.
Yes, humanitarians do get the chance to creatively spread awareness about the increasing need to help people. But why did Reshma sign-up for the #Dead2Red marathon? Isn’t it a big risk?
Reshma: Having worked with refugees in Kenya’s Dadaab camps, and having heard their stories, you realize that any one of us could be a refugee. Could you imagine a life where you had to leave everything you knew behind, including all your possessions, community centres, possibly friends and family, job, everything. I am running for the refugees of the world, to show them that they are not alone.
Preparing for marathon from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea is not a cup of English tea! Reshma is honest to say that it has been tough, especially when it comes to physical training ahead of the event. However, quitting is not an option for this lady.
Reshma: …Running the marathon in itself is one of my biggest challenges! Those who know me know that I cannot run to save my life! So trying to run more than 100 metres has been difficult, but I am happy to say that I can run 3000metres today without seriously huffing and puffing, so getting there! Also, I am always so busy, so trying to find time to run almost every day has been a challenge!
[But…] I keep pushing! I have to do this, not so much for me, but for the refugees! Keeping that in mind makes me go on!
On a lighter note, the life of a humanitarian comes with a variety of fun moments especially in cultural contexts. Here is an example where camel is involved.
Reshma: The inter-cultural communication – especially when you don’t speak the same language as the people you are helping, or your colleagues in another country! I remember the first time I was offered nyiri nyiri, dried camel meat – a delicacy in northern Kenya and Somalia….Everyone was looking at me expectantly for my approval, so even though I was not the biggest fan, I had to smile through this camel-fat filled aroma – not pleasant at all!
Aside from supporting CARE International in Kenya as a Knowledge Management Coordinator, Reshma happens to be a professional belly-dancer!
Reshma: Well many already know, but I LOVE to dance…….. I have been a belly dancer since I was young…dance is my way of connecting to the real me, carefree, like the wind!
If you have been looking for a way to contribute to charity or just touch someone’s life out there amid the Syria crisis, Reshma invites you to join the cause and send a donation through this CARE International page.
For more about the Syrian Civil War, please click here.
Join the conversation on Facebook by following the hashtag #Dead2Red and see what the runners have been up to as they prepare for the marathon!
If you have never met a real humanitarian warrior, you can now check that off your list having virtually met one!
“…I can do my best to make sure that I helped as many people as I could to empower themselves , for the improvement of their own lives, those of their families and communities.” ~Reshma Aziz Khan