Marathon walk raises global awareness of natural disasters
By John Redmond
Three hundred expatriates representing the four corners of the globe joined together at Seoul Grand Park for marathon walk “10km in Their Shoes” on a beautiful spring afternoon on April 7. This event, organized by volunteer group Mannam, focused on countries that have suffered from a natural disaster on a large-scale within the past two years. It highlighted Japan, Turkey, Thailand, Pakistan, Chile, and Haiti, where people are still recovering from catastrophes that struck their homes.
Participants were asked to choose a country to walk for as they trekked the 10 kilometers around the zoo. They proudly displayed a sticker of the nation’s flag on their faces as they walked.
Across the nation, some 1,000 people took part in the campaign by walking and writing messages of hope to the six countries in focus. Volunteers and expats met in seven different cities on the southern part of the peninsula and walked at the same time to raise awareness.
Besides Seoul, Mannam branches in Busan, Chuncheon in Gangwon Province, Jeonju in North Jeolla Province, Incheon, Daejeon and Gwangju held a 10 kilometer walk as well.
A Mannam member from Saudi Arabia, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that this is the type of work in which he is interested. “Volunteer work is something that you are attracted to because it’s for humanity.” He walked to support the nations of Turkey and Pakistan, which are still recuperating from last year’s earthquake and major floods, respectively.
Mannam International Running Club member Melvin Galera was also proud to take part in the campaign. He said that although he cannot personally go to Japan and help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami, he feels that he can support them by taking part in this marathon. “I feel for Japan and want to give them a message of hope,” the Philippine native said. “Despite what’s happened, I believe you can move on.”
A student from Turkey, who only gave his first name, Kamal, was moved by the number of people who gathered at the event to remember and share in the sufferings of people miles away. He stated, “I would like to thank every participant that supports this event. I’m happy to know that Korean people still keep the friendship that leads to peace.”
“The walk is an on-going campaign to bring awareness to the people of South Korea as well as those abroad. It is essential to send the message that we support and embrace those suffering around the world as we are one global family,” read a press release.
For more information on Mannam Volunteer Association, visit www.mannamintl.org.