Afghan girls refugees working New York Metropolis Marathon for freedom


Three younger Afghan girls will likely be lining up on the New York Metropolis Marathon this Sunday, and will likely be holding in thoughts those that are prevented from working as they full the enduring race. It will likely be not solely a outstanding bodily achievement for them, however may even assist the non-profit that launched them to working and supported their evacuation, Free to Run.

Free to Run is a corporation centered on girls and ladies who reside in conflict-affected communities. Its intention is to drive change in battle areas by supporting adolescent ladies and younger girls to advance their management and wellness via working. Since 2014, Free to Run has labored with a number of thousand younger girls, primarily in Afghanistan and Iraq. serves as president and obtained a Governor Basic of Canada’s Meritorious Service Medal in 2020 for her half in establishing the group.

The Taliban’s 2021 takeover of Afghanistan’s authorities led to the lack of girls’s rights within the nation, together with the lack of the best to take part in sports activities. Since fleeing the nation, Hasina, Fatima and Zahra have been capable of resume working, and so they hope to share their expertise of the New York Metropolis Marathon with younger girls in Afghanistan who might dream of working someday.

Meet the Afghan girls runners

Fatima was born in Iran as a refugee and returned to Afghanistan along with her household in 2001 after the primary withdrawal of the Taliban. She realized at a Girls’s Day occasion and commenced working with the group in a army compound, the place it was secure to take action. Fatima is now primarily based within the U.S. as a Fulbright Scholar, however she is a good distance from her mates, household and neighborhood. She says working helps her really feel like she’s again at house.

Picture courtesy of Free to Run

“Working as an Afghan woman has been my technique of practising my freedom, breaking stereotypical norms, and spreading consciousness about challenges Afghan ladies face,” Fatima says. “I additionally hope to encourage different ladies to run, particularly Afghan ladies who at the moment are extra restricted than ever, and share my story for example of somebody who’s succesful if given the chance. There are such a lot of ladies again house who want to run the NYC Marathon and I will likely be working of their names.”

Hasina grew up in Kabul, and first heard of Free to Run via a seven-day climbing journey for women and younger girls the non-profit was organizing. She persuaded her dad and mom to let her journey on her personal to the occasion, and in addition was capable of run her first 10K race with the group that yr.

“As an Afghan woman [runner], I used to be harassed and warned loads by native individuals,” Hasina shares. “They’d informed me very imply issues that made my objectives and my desires arduous to pursue. I bear in mind telling me issues like: “What are you carrying?” or “Don’t come right here anymore!”” She says her desires have been stronger than her fears, and he or she continued to run.

Picture: Free to Run

Hasina was granted asylum in Canada after the autumn of Afghanistan in 2021, and he or she now works part-time for Free to Run, supporting younger girls nonetheless in Afghanistan. Right this moment, working helps her clear her thoughts and push her boundaries. 

“Working this marathon means extra than simply working and ending it,” Hasina says.”I’m doing this race not just for myself however for all Afghan ladies who can’t run, as a result of scenario.” 

Zahra is the youngest of the Afghan girls working on Sunday, and says that her first run was along with her father when she was 14 years previous. Her father stood by her facet, regardless of the judgment and disapproval of others.

Zahra joined Free to Run via her college. She says the group modified her perspective on life and her neighborhood, taught her management, friendship, dedication, honour, and development, and “gave her a preventing soul” that helps her wherever she goes. Zahra is now primarily based within the U.S., and says it’s arduous to consider the women and who now not have the chance to develop. 

Picture courtesy of Free to Run

Zahra dedicates her race on Sunday to the ladies and ladies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and different international locations who, like her, dream of working free. 

The funds raised by Hasina, Fatima, and Zahra via their participation within the marathon will instantly profit Free to Run’s applications, enabling extra younger girls and ladies in battle areas to entry sports activities alternatives, develop their management abilities and wellness, and problem gender norms. To assist the runners’ purpose, donations may be made on JustGiving:



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