For Everyone

Last week Sunday, I participated again in the “Every One” road race in Hawassa, organised by the “Great Ethiopian Run”. Not that I am a great runner, far from that,

but this time I thought it was a great team building opportunity with colleagues from Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. Preparation and training for such an event is very important indeed and should begin much earlier than we gave ourselves time for. Having completed the course, I decided again to get a bit more serious and prepare myself for the 10 km Great Ethiopian Run later this year in Addis Abeba and perhaps for the half marathon next year in Hawassa. I do not have any ambition to compete with front runners as this will be far out of my reach, but I will aim at completing the runs in a time within my own capability. To be able to achieve this I will indeed have to train regularly and make sure I get sufficiently into shape. Next to stepping up the pace and getting stronger, training will need to focus on technique as well. This, combined with paying attention to more proportional intake in terms of food and drink, should provide a sufficient basis to achieve my goal.
Much like in doing business, setting a realistic goal, working out a strategy, making the resources available, planning the steps to be taken and strictly following the plan, will in principle increase the chances for the goal to be achieved. Setting a realistic goal is especially important, which should be derived from the individual’s or company’s capacities.
Having said that, we must realise that organising an event like this is not an easy task and takes a lot of planning ahead and precise execution of each of the planned steps. The “Great Ethiopian Run” as an organization has certainly proven to have the capacity to manage such a project very well indeed, based on a number of years of experience now as well as on the professional expertise of its management and staff. In fact, I observed that the event was organised and planned in every detail and there was no flaw in its execution. This organization is a good example of an organization with a clear mission and it is clear that all the organization and its staff do is in support of its mission.       
Now, the preparations, the trip to Hawassa, the excitement before the race, the collective participation of so many other people and the satisfaction afterwards, all made this a very joyful event to be part of.
The thing is that the “Great Ethiopian Run”, under the inspirational leadership of Haile Gebre Selassie, organised the event not only to give amateur and elite runners the opportunity to participate in an official race, but also to raise funds and contribute to the campaign to improve mother and child health in Ethiopia. The race was sponsored by a number of organisations, while all participants also paid a fee to register. This is a great example of how local resources can be generated for a good cause, while having fun at the same time. Sport as well as music provide great opportunities to rally people around or behind a good cause and hopefully we will see more of such initiatives in the future.
I am convinced myself that resources for example for development projects, emergency responses and charities can be generated locally much more than we care to believe. After all this is a country with cultures and traditional systems that provide safety nets for community members, that can be tapped into and learnt from. Unfortunately, such traditional systems have over the years given way to the development of the so called dependency syndrome, which feeds the idea that somebody else has to take the initiative, solve problems, and provide money and services. While external support is certainly required and useful, the issue of ownership is now at stake. There are other ways though to get things off the ground. There are other ways of doing things and there are plenty such opportunities if you ask me, turning things around from being dependent to taking initiative and responsibility. Are we going to continue accepting the poverty we see around us everyday and expecting the government and donor organizations to do something about it? Or are we going to take social responsibility and do something about it as individuals and business community?
I learnt for example of a drinking water company in the USA, which donates 5 cents for every bottle it sells to help bring clean water to developing countries. According to UNICEF, an estimated 4000 children die each day from a lack of clean water. Those 5 cents drops in the bucket could soon turn into an ocean of aid. Based on sales projections, the company planned to donate at least $ 250,000 to clean water projects for the first year and pledged $ 10 million over the following five years. The company will also host three to six mile “walks for water” to raise awareness of the daily treks that families make in developing countries to get water.
Such examples should inspire us indeed and encourage us to become more creative in tapping into our own abilities and mobilize our own resources. For everyone.