Kate runs Boston

My dear and most zen friend, Kate, is running the Boston Marathon in nearly 3 weeks! This is her second year at Boston. Last year she set a life time p.r. and has been training her hinny off to have another great race.

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Last year at Boston also marks a terrible, terrible tragedy- the Boston Bombings. Like other runners, Kate’s indomitable, champion spirit is venturing back out on that course to crush another 26.2 miles. I am so proud of Kate and I will be cheering for her all the way!

I am honoured that she has chosen Children’s Running Project Uganda as her race cause. She will be raising money for Phase II of this project. I am pretty ecstatic about this! To see for yourself what the first phase of this project was like watch the video HERE.

Please support Kate in her marathon by giving to this project. Use the PayPal button below. All donations go straight to the project. Click this button, it will take you where you need to go. If you do not have a PayPal account that is no problem, you can still use PayPal. Just look for the “Don’t Have a PayPal?” section on the PayPal page (just click the button below!)

Go get em’ Kate!

 

Awpoyo & ameri matek!

one to RUN

Children’s Running Project Uganda (2013) official video. Thank you for all your support in the first year of this project. Thank you Devon Feldmeth, Cameron Ernst, Jane Ekayu and the Children of Peace family. Here’s to many more happy running years to come!

Awpoyo, friends.

 

honest news ≠ april fools

It has been a quiet few months of processing, hard work and a lot of life changes. Let me catch you up.

First surprise… I got married! Yes, to a real person. Actually, he’s more like a superhero. We were married January 24th in Wellington, New Zealand.

Turns out my husband can fly.

Turns out my husband can fly.

Kelsey + Jake

Just a quick pose for our iPhone photographer.

Honeymoon in Tongariro National Park at Mount Ruapehu. It is basically an outdoor adventure's/running couple's dream.

Honeymoon in Tongariro National Park at Mount Ruapehu. It is basically an outdoor adventure’s/running couple’s dream.

Second surprise… We live in New Zealand, for now anyways. Jake is a brilliant engineer who specializes in earthquake engineering stuff and stuff (real technical terms being used here, go figure). I am working on my MA in Intercultural Studies and undergoing endless waves of culture shock. Living in Uganda was a piece of cake relative to life’s recent changes. Somehow adjusting to New Zealand (and being married, ahem) has been much more difficult than I’d imagined. And though I don’t recognize my own life these days it is hard to complain (actually, I still complain but even I know it is unreasonable). Truth be told I’m in love, happily married, almost finished with a Master degree and living in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Hills of Cape Palliser

Cape Palliser: Turn one way to see golden, sprawling hillsides and jagged rocks, turn the other way to see the ocean’s expanse.

High above the beach looking out over the ocean and bay. Totally breathtaking.

High above the beach looking out over the ocean and bay. Totally breathtaking.

Urban view overlooking the dowtown. Summer sunsets in Wellington are really something.

Urban view overlooking the downtown Wellington sunset.

Third surprise… I am beginning to plan for Phase II of Children’s Running Project Uganda. Right now I am evaluating the first project and asking key questions such as, What do the children say they need? What did we learn last summer from this project and all its parts? What can we do better in the future?

In line with that, I am working toward answering another big question, “How do we fund this project the second time around?”

Maybe this “third surprise” is not such a surprise because of how wildly successful our first project was. When I left Uganda in September 2013 the children said they wanted to continue running and training, want the program to stay long-term and felt running was helping them. I want to provide this for them, and for my part this very moment I believe honest and humble reevaluation of the project and its goals are imperative.

For now please keep us all in mind while myself (and colleagues near and far) sort out the best way to plan and promote this second chapter in our exciting distance-running-peace-making-child-empowering story.

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One of my favorite photos from last summer.

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Looking forward to the day when I update you from Uganda about all the running adventures being had by these amazing athletes.

Oh and also, though it may be April Fools Day in the USA, it is April 2nd here in New Zealand. So, this post is no joke :)

-KO

atwobear productions + children’s running project uganda

I am all aflutter and over-the-moon to announce to you that I will be presenting the Children’s Running Project Uganda story to nearly 1,000 people @ the NCAA Cross Country Championships in two weeks. This is an amazing opportunity. I am honored, excited, humbled and taking quite seriously this responsibility. It is really important that I represent these kids well, showcase how incredible they are and communicate how this project empowered, encouraged and brought them hope.

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Thank God that through channels of networking and connections at Fuller Theological Seminary I have partnered with atwobear productions and the talented film-maker, photographer, and all around gifted artist, Ian Knipple. Ian has done a fantastic job working with all the rough videos and photos I compiled this summer.  I can’t wait to share with you his creation.

Stay tuned friends. It’s going to be great!

Photo heaven.

A few days before I left Lira and said goodbye to all the children I’ve run with and subsequently grown to love, I met a girl in a cafe in town. Her name is Gracie and she just happens to be a photographer- and we have a mutual friend! What are the chances?! I invited her out to our last Saturday practice and she has blessed me with photos from that day.

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First of all, Gracie is crazy talented. And secondly, these photos pretty much sing to my heart. I could not have asked for a better way to close out this project. Please take a view of them through the Children’s Running Project Uganda Facebook page. They are so good! I don’t want you to miss out!

Be blessed.

Here’s the link to the album too, if you’d prefer to copy and paste it into your browser.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.518086174950295.1073741830.457902490968664&type=1&l=80f5732aa0

KO

Shouting the Battle Cry of Freedom.

Hello friends, family, global community,

It is with a heavy heart that I say good-bye to Uganda and it’s beautiful children. There are a million things I could say right now, most of which wouldn’t make much sense because I am still processing the last six weeks, so I have fallen upon three important points I want to share with you- bulletpoints.

  • Thank you for all your support- financially, in prayer, by encouraging me, and for taking notice of these children! Being aware of their stories, their progress and the issues that relate, you are part of the fight to free them from oppression, stigma, poverty and pain. I can not say it enough, thank you. This project could not have happened without you. I am forever grateful.
  • Please watch this quick video I just recorded via the Children’s Running Project Uganda Facebook page, it is titled, “Closing time.”
  • Then listen to this song.

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With an abundance of love, hope and appreciation,

Kelsey

Kamu-kamu, down the red dirt road.

Right before I left for Uganda I received a message from a dear friend of mine. She said, “I’ve been meaning to tell you this Ugandan phrase I know, ‘kamu-kamu’. It means one step at a time.” She went on, “I think you are going to need it. Just remember, ‘kamu-kamu.’”

She was right, that phrase has served me well during this project. And now that we are in our final steps together I want to reflect with you a little bit before it is time to say good-bye.

Today I met with the kids for our second to last practice together. It was a day full of confidence and peace: Confidence in the children and peace within my own soul. We did a group run, looping a few times through a village near Coorom School.

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There we were, all the boys, all girls, and one Muzonga, moving joyfully through another humid African day, sloping down red dirt roads. And, if only the roads could tell tales of the bloodshed they’ve seen- things most of us can not imagine. Running here you would never guess the region’s history. And looking forward, words like renewal, restoration, and regrowth come to mind.

Uganda’s ugly past and present beauty relate so vividly to the following passage.

“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”—Isaiah 61:3.

The children I have worked with: Their lives, ashes. Their orphanhood, a mourning. The memories they carry, heaviness on their backs. And yet, grace and loveliness are not just in their striking faces, but also in their actions. Within their undernourished, neglected bodies they possess abundant joy and hope.

In only a few shorts weeks these developing distance runners have grown to be a team; self-directed, self-organized and united. Today they confirmed that I can leave with peace in my mind and heart, and full confidence that they will do wonderfully without me. I have successfully passed along my passion, and in doing so, I’ve enabled and empowered them- which was exactly the point. Their own champion spirits will continue to sway them towards greatness.

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Today’s practice served as an illustration. Though their *first coach is leaving, they are going to find success all on their own. Here’s what I mean:

Like I mentioned before, today we ran a familiar loop. The “big loop,” as we call it, is 1.4 miles (or 2k) and traces down one road and then back through a village, finishing at the field near the school. After a half-mile warm-up we gathered and I explained that everyone had the choice to do 2 or 3 big loops. It was totally up to them, no pressure, no competition. Just an “easy-peasy” day, as I’ve come to say. (And yes, they respond with “lemon squeezy.” It’s awesome.)

Much to my surprise the whole group did all three loops! That’s a proud moment for me. They wanted to run longer- a distance coach’s dream!

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During our last loop I heard women to my right whooping and hollering, cheering and clapping. As they came into sight I saw them leap off their work stools, drop the clothes they’d been washing and jump up and down with smiles on their faces as we ran by. They yelled, “Well done, well done!” The kids laughed and I asserted that the cheers were for them.

We reached the field, our finish, and without me saying a word the team got in a big circle and began stretching. I did not lead the stretches, instead I stepped back and watched as one of their peers entered the center of the circle. His name is Isaac. Isaac, lost both parents in the war, spent time in the LRA’s captivity and currently leads his household, living with his younger siblings in a mud hut, just trying to get by. With a story like his we might expect him to be bitter, angry and recluse. But instead, Isaac is kind, he is smart, he works hard, he has a great smile- that he lends from time to time- and he is a natural born leader. Needless to say, I was proud to see him leading the group.

Then, in the midst of admiring Isaac’s leadership and the team’s self-sufficiency, I caught a glimpse of this little guy (maybe 4 years old?) who must have joined us from one of the houses in the village during our last time through. He was taking Isaac’s stretches quite seriously, mimicking everything he saw.

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It is moments like this that I know for sure that running has and will continue to bring these kids joy. Not only do they want to run as far as they can, but the local community encourages their activity, the kids are taking the lead at practice and the little ones want to join in. This project seems to be the start of something wonderful, positive- and even beautiful.

To a group of children who deserve the very best, I will miss you.

To my friends and supporters near and far, kamu-kamu.

Ameri matek,

Kelsey

* I developed and implemented this running program with high hopes to pass it on to Children of Peace Uganda. I am please to tell you that they have decided to continue this running program with the children they serve. One of their staff has agreed to take over the “coach” position and I couldn’t be happier!

Run, stretch, smile, repeat.

Three videos for you today!

The first video is of a few powerful moments where you can see and hear us all running together in unison. Pretty cool stuff.

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The second video is of me doing a little “coaching.” Not only do you get to listen to me try to catch my breath, but you also get to see what is really going on. This video is totally impromptu (and dorky). I give a quick description of what, where and why we are doing this project, how it’s going and what I am hopeful this will bring for the future of these children.

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The third video features a brief interaction I had with some villagers (women and children) during our run today. Community support is really important for the health, longevity and impact of my work. I finally got the nerve up to ask what they thought of this running thing. The response was encouraging.

Enjoy.

Ameri matek,

Kelsey

Love is an action word.

I have been saying all along that we must “do more than watch” per the children in Uganda and the project I am leading. It is not good enough for me to go to Lira, Uganda and you or anyone else to sit back and observe action-less. Well guess what folks, you did something. You did something great.

Less than two weeks ago I asked for your help, yet again. I asked you to partner with me so we could give one pair of running shoes to each of the incredible children I have been working with in Lira, Uganda. Your response was outstanding and I have begun giving the shoes out. I am so pleased to share some of the photos with you. Thank you for doing something. Thank you for getting involved and acting in a tangible, impactful way. Here is what your love in action looks like for some special kids in Lira.

This is where we began.

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These kids live with a spirit of gratitude, so they were not complaining. I think it is important that you know they were not expecting me to give them shoes. Instead they have taken to running with ease and excitement, eager to learn. They come to practice ready to have fun, even barefooted because they know nothing else…. this whole “give them shoes” idea was just something that came to me along the way.

I thought there was a chance we- “we” the collective caring body of people who are following this trip and vision, Childrens Running Project Uganda- could do better for these kids. I suspected we could all give a bit more of ourselves, our hearts and a little bit of our pocket books. I hoped that by giving them a small gift we could bless them in their pursuit of running and an all around better life. I must also add that we have not solved their problems, absolved their poverty or saved them from their pasts or their present lives. But we have shown them that they are loved and valued, and that is a good and necessary start.

These shoes help them run better, easier, safer, and also demonstrate love, your love in action.

So we raised some money (well… you raised the money and I was wowed!) This is the first of multiple bags.Image

I opened this bag up like a kid on Christmas morning!

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I sorted through all the shoes, making sure they were the correct style and high in quality. Then I went to practice and starting fitting the bare feet of some of the happiest, most excited runners I’ve ever seen.

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All together now, laced up and ready to roll.

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Don’t let some of there more-serious faces fool you. These guys are all types of kind, silly and sweet. But some of them insist upon looking as tough as possible in photos. Ha. The hill workout we did 30 minutes later had them all pretty humbled.  A two mile warm up, plus dynamic dills, then 10 times 200 meter repeats on dirt, running hard up the hill and easy down. They ran great. Good thing they had running shoes.

Thank you for making this happen, friends!

Awpoyo,

Kelsey