Running with a Purpose: Hands Across Nations

This fall my baby sister will be running her first marathon, and she is doing it for charity. My sister is a budding minimalist/barefoot runner, and she will be running her marathon in VFFs. I started training her on trails and hills, and in her weight loss journey to date, she has lost 75lbs. Today she can run right beside me, and we’ve run trails together barefoot for almost 3 hours. I’m so proud of her! I asked my sister to write a guest post for me about her connection to her charity. Here’s her post. Please consider supporting her.


by Elizabeth Rodriguez

You know those long commercials that show malnourished children in Africa, Central America, and other developing places?

The commercials show dirty children with big bellies swarmed by flies, looking all sad. They are supposed to make you feel sorry enough for the children and their families to donate some of your money. I don’t like those commercials because I feel like they’re false. They don’t show the entire picture.

My parents are originally from El Salvador, the smallest country in Central America and also the most populated. It is considered to be a developing country where some of the children in the commercials live.

My Dad took me to El Salvador when I was 15. He told me I would be living there with my Dad’s woman and her family, whom I had never met. I would attend high school and forget everything and everyone I knew back home.

During my stay I lived like a “real Salvadorean girl”. I went to the market at 5am every morning. I lived in a dirt floor house with bars on the windows, washed my clothes by hand, and took care of my new step-mother’s daughter. I was not allowed to go anywhere without my Dad. I felt miserable and trapped.

During my stay, I saw the children in the commercials. They were dirty, and some of them even had the famous big bellies. It was all very real. The poverty, the poor living conditions and the malnutrition. However, these children were not sad. They were laughing, shouting, singing, running around naked with no shoes, and having the time of their lives. They were so happy that you almost didn’t notice all the negative things surrounding them. Their joy was so strong it was contagious. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched them play in the streets.

These children and their families barely have anything, yet they have joy in their lives. So many of us search for that kind of joy, and they have what we want. What they don’t have is an equal opportunity to be the best they can be. To grow up with proper healthcare, nutritious food, a good education, and a safe home.

North Americans have so much stuff. We are overwhelmed with opportunities and we sometimes take what we have for granted. Things like easy access to clean water, clothes, food, education, a home. These are all things that are considered as luxury to so many people around the world.

We also have the opportunity to share and give.

Yesterday, I registered for my very first marathon! I am running and raising funds for a great organization called Hands Across the Nations.

Hands Across the Nation is a charitable organization committed to making a positive impact on the social and economic conditions in the developing world. The organization remains 100% volunteer in order to ensure the best use of its resources. Hands Across the Nations is also highly focused on “capacity building” – working within the same communities every year in order to maximize their impact and create complete solutions.

The focus is put on projects related to health, education and water systems. One of my lifetime goals is to go to a part of the world where I can help with my own two hands. I can’t wait to someday volunteer overseas. For now, I will run in my hometown and raise as much money as possible so that less fortunate families can continue to live happily and have a greater opportunity to reach their potential.

I eventually left El Salvador due to health reasons and now I am back in Canada. It was easy for me to leave and get the proper healthcare I needed in Toronto. I didn’t think about it then, but I know now that it doesn’t work that way for so many other people. In a perfect world, everyone would have access to health care, among other things. The world will never be perfect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help one another and try to make this world a better place.

If you’re reading this, I don’t want you to feel pressured to donate anything. The most important thing is that you find happiness in your life and live without any limitations. Laugh, shout, dance, sing, and run around naked wherever you are. Joy will be waiting for you there.

You can view Elizabeth’s donation page here.