21 April 2010
Nadya Parks will be donning her running shoes in support of Palestine refugees at the Illinois Marathon in two weeks. Nadya, the daughter of a refugee from Lebanon, is hoping to raise $2,600 – a hundred dollars for every mile she runs – to donate to UNRWA.
On 1 May – the anniversary of the start of UNRWA’s field operations in 1950 – Nadya will join 13,000 other runners in the marathon.
“I wanted to put my passion for the Palestinian refugee situation into action,” she said. “I was tired of waiting for change to happen. I decided that if I wanted Palestinians to receive better services and assistance then I should raise money for an organisation that commits itself to helping Palestinians.”
Nadya’s father grew up in Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon. Many of her aunts, uncles, and cousins continue to live in refugee camps.
“Supporting UNRWA is a very important cause for me,” Nadya said. “Despite the challenges that my father faced, UNRWA schools played a key role in him getting a strong education that ultimately afforded him the opportunity to attend the American University of Beirut and also to pursue a Master’s degree and PhD in the United States.”
Nadya’s lifelong interest isn’t only personal; she has also seen UNRWA’s work at first hand. “I have spent the last six years studying development in Palestinian refugee camps throughout Jordan, Lebanon and Syria for my PhD,” she said. “The Palestinian people welcomed me into the camps, sat with me in many long interviews, and UNRWA officials met with me to answer my questions too.”
It is her first marathon, and Nadya says she is nervous and excited. “It is very challenging on a physical and mental level,” she said. “I started training in June by slowly increasing the distance of my runs. I train roughly six days a week, with lots of runs and a yoga class.”
“I have reached 60 per cent of my goal by raising a little over $1,500 dollars. However, I still have a ways to go until I reach my goal,” Nadya continued. “I am hoping in the last few weeks before the race that donations will increase. Please consider donating to the cause, even small donations make a big difference in the lives of Palestinian refugees.”
Donate to Nadya (FirstGiving website)
Read more on Nadya’s blog
If you’re taking part in a running event and would like your sponsorship to go to UNRWA, please email firstname.lastname@example.org