Run4unity 2023: running for peace and ecology
The genius of a race that sets off on 7 May and lasts the whole year!
It’s a month later and there is no less enthusiasm! Launched on 7 May, Run4unity: is still running across the globe, in different styles and time zones, setting the pace for communities all over the world, who are out in front, committed to keeping their appointment! They are mainly children and young people, but others are joining in too!
Forgive me! I’m getting carried away – I will start at the beginning!
“It’s time to run together’ is one of the slogans accompanying this year’s run for peace and climate solidarity. What is so inspirational about “Run4unity”, is that children, young people and communities came up with the idea to run at the same time, according to their different time zones, creating the effect of a giant, global relay race: so, from the Fiji Islands to Canada, on 7th May, which marked the conclusion of United World Week –Settimana Mondo Unito the world set off! But it is more than the global appeal that draws people; it sends a message to everyone that together we can witness that fraternity is always an option and that many, many people throughout the world believe in real and prophetic values such as peace, solidarity and fraternity; and that it is worth ‘running’ through life, in such a way that our daily lives take shape between one event and the next, demonstrating that relationships built on fraternity enrich our lives, overcoming difficulties, and creatively transforming potential conflict, at any level, into an opportunity for dialogue and much more..
The stories and numerous features of this year’s race bear witness to this: Run4Unity 2023 is taking place across 5 Continenti, in 63 countries, with over 181 ‘events’, involving thousands of participants; covering a distance of 7194 kilometres, 12.445 minutes of physical exercise and planting 2676 trees..and still counting!
Did you say ‘trees planted’? Yes, because in this year’s race, every group has taken on an ecological challenge: to raise awareness within our communities of the need to turn towards caring for others and the environment, for where there is care, there is peace; so much so, that wherever possible, Run4Unity, is taking place in locations that are symbols of peace; along borders between countries or communities experiencing conflict; or in places of particular ecological significance, and supported by many initiatives from the Laudato Sì platform and Dicastery for promoting Integral Human Development Dicastero per lo Sviluppo Umano Integrale
This year, participants have approached micro sponsors, to help them convert the number of kilometres they run into the number of trees they plant, collaborating with local and international organisations, in order to care and run at the same time!
Testimonies are so varied, each one more beautiful than the next! In Japan, for example, Run4unity has been organised for the first time together with the Hibakusha Community Centre, an organisation that brings together survivors of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki to promote activities for peace. The bells at Peace Park were rung at 11:02, the moment in which the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945; even tourists found themselves joining in with those who were present for the start of the race. During the race, there was time to discover the different statues of peace donated by various countries, and to take a moment to listen to the testimonies of survivors.
Moving on to India, we meet Adiba Ali, a young Muslim woman, 18 years old, from New Delhi who tells us: «This year Run4Unity has been organised in collaboration with Teens4Unity and PRATYeK (an NGO for children). We were around 50 participants. I walked 5 km to raise money to plant trees. We raised enough to plant 60 trees, which was really important for me and my community, because we live on this planet and we have a duty and responsibility towards Mother Earth and Nature. Our planet gives us so much, so we need to give something in return.
In Belo Horizonte, Brazil, we hear from children and communities that Run4unity has been an opportunity to meet with COMUPRA – Council for Unity in the Community in Ribeiro de Abreu – and find out about its project to purify the water of Ribeirão do Onça, “May Onça drink clean water”; the goal is that people may swim, fish and enjoy the river Onça by 2025. To reach the goal, the young people have joined with other organisations to help relocate 830 families whose homes are constantly flooded, to a safer area, in order to secure the adequate draining of waste water from the entire stream basin and then to cultivate communal orchards, as well as provide courses and a community library. Run4Unity in Belo Horizonte, has helped to raise awareness of these projects as well as the needs of the most vulnerable.
And we could report much more… because whoever joins in the Run4unity, never runs for one day only but stays on the journey for a whole year!