On 26 May 2013, a group of us will be competing in the 5km obstacle challenge as part of the Spartan Race http://www.spartanrace.com/ in Montreal, Canada. The race is not just a simple race, while the distances vary from 1 mile to marathon distances, the obstacles also vary and are unpredictable with the participant not knowing what is in store until the race day. Just some of the obstacles presented in the past include: fire jumps, barbed wire crawl, spear throw, wall climbs including slippery walls, hobie hops, burpees and plenty more.
As part of this challenge, we have picked a cause to support that is very close to our hearts. Daily around the globe, minority groups, such as women and children, are affected by restrictions on education. Whether it be affordability, or lack of educational infrastructure, this ongoing phenomenon, is growing more common in not only in the global south, but more so in war stricken countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Palestine and Syria. Therefore as a multinational and diverse group, we stand in solidarity by choosing to support a project in Iraq, which will help children with special needs attain proper attention in the enhancement of their education.
Through the help of our friends at “Walk for Iraq”, a global movement that organises sponsored walks and fundraising initiatives for charitable organisations throughout Iraq (www.walkforiraq.com), we have been able to find the most appropriate charity which will not only ensure that the funds reach the right groups, but will also deliver reports on the progress of the project’s development and raise awareness in the long term.
Help the Needy Charitable Trust www.helptheneedy.org.uk (UK Reg. No. 1059951) works with children in less fortunate situations to help alleviate their suffering and elevate their standard of living.
The project itself will provide children with special needs the:
a) Physiological rehabilitation which will include Art, Music & Sport Therapy
b) Health support such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, medical walking sticks etc.
The project also aims to build the capacity of teachers in the latest products.
One of the most important highlights of this project will be an awareness campaign of the rights of children with special needs. This will be through a social network, media and other channels. The project aims to help the children to believe in themselves and not see their disability as a point of weakness but to find strength in what they have and live their dreams. This is very important, particularly as support for the children’s participation and transition to further educational opportunities or employment is extremely limited in Iraq. The target areas will be centres/schools all over Iraq.
Presently Iraq does not give force to legislation that effectively protects the rights of disabled people, nor has it embarked on a national education strategy to raise disability awareness to change social attitudes and institutional structures and policies that obstruct or compromise the participation of disabled people in regular community activities such as education and employment. Furthermore, the number of disabled children in Iraq has multiplied in the last decade, therefore creating a large problem Iraqis have no experience in dealing with. Sadly, a large number of those kids are orphans and they will, without doubt, fall behind whenever the financial resources of their families are limited and education is deficient. At the end of the project, Help the Needy will be gathering reports on lessons learned and the recommendations from those with expertise and will call for a conference in Iraq which includes all the groups, charities, organisations, government and departments dealing with this segment of the society.
Please help support this very important cause by clicking on the donate button. It is to these children that we dedicate our mission and it is a project that will make a difference. Be a part of this change.
Any contribution or support is greatly appreciated.
Elias Kandalaft (Age: 26) was born in Amman, Jordan and grew up in Dubai since the age of 3. He moved to Montreal, Canada to study at the John Molson School of Business where he later continued to Le Cordon Bleu Paris in Ottawa to study cuisine and pastry. He now works in some of Montreal’s most prominent restaurants as a chef. Elias loves a good challenge and felt that joining the Spartan Race is a good excuse to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a push to test his limits, outside of the kitchen. He truly believes in the ambitions of ‘Help the Needy’ and hopes that he can help the children of Iraq obtain a better quality of life by attaining proper education and getting the attention needed to grow.
Karim Aita (Age: 30) was born in Damascus, Syria. When Karim isn’t busy working as macro-Investment Analyst, he is actively seeking new challenges, be it mental or physical. Karim decided to join the Spartan race due to its tough character as an obstacle course. To him, this course metaphorically reflects the challenges that Iraqi children have to face in their daily life in order to reach the ultimate goal of education and freedom. This project runs close to home, as the ongoing crisis in Syria continues to grow. More specifically, the exacerbated refugee problem which continues to leave thousands of people without adequate educational infrastructure; among other things.
Ahmed Ali (Age: 26) is a Riyadh born Iraqi. He was brought up in Saudi Arabia and has lived in Montreal, Washington DC, and London and is currently residing in Toronto. He has decided to challenge himself physically and mentally by signing up for The Spartan Race and supporting a cause which is close to his heart. Having no background in racing or marathon running, Ahmed will be challenging his body and mind, along with his will-power and determination to complete the race. This will be part of a long sentimental and physical journey for Ahmed, as not only is hoping to complete a marathon, but is also eager visit his homeland and the project in the very near future. While trying to achieve personal goals, he is also keen on giving back to the least fortunate of his community, considering all the blessing he has received in his lifetime.
Noor Al Ghafari (Age: 24) is a Palestinian/Egyptian born in Kuwait and grew up in Montreal, Canada. Just like most third culture kids, she has lived in many places such Kuwait, Dubai, Montreal, London and Athens. She has completed several races, but the Spartan Race shall be her first obstacle course. With a background in Urban Studies and Urban Design for Development, understanding the root causes of such global issues, has been a central focus for her. Through her experience with youth development, she truly understands the need for such programs in underprivileged communities. She also has chosen to support this cause, knowing that revolutionary change comes from continuous solidarity between nations and their people, rather than singular efforts.