A Christmas Gift from Maria

Maria’s smile was the best gift I received this Christmas.  Maria is seven years young.  She can’t wait to go the USA, so she can run and play with other kids like she used to.  Five months ago she was walking with her mom in their neighborhood in a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria when a bullet entered her shoulder and lodged in her spine.

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Her family sought refuge in Lebanon.  They live in an abandoned building. No electricity. The own two mattresses, three blankets and a wheelchair aside from the clothes on their back.

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The family greeted us with smiles that warmed the freezing room.  Maria spoke as she shivered: “My mother tells me stories, I cannot go to school, they don’t have a place for me. I get bored, so my father takes me on the chair to watch other kids run. I know I will have a surgery and get better and run again. When am I going to America to get my bullet out?”

As we walked out of their home, Mohamad, her father says there’s another family who needs your help.  A young mother appears with her three children; Mohamad the eldest was at home when a shell hit their house, killing his grandfather and tearing through his hands.

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“They are in good shape” says Mohamad, The PCRF Lebanon Missions Manager. “On your next visit, we will go to the Ba’kaa where a tent is the only shelter those families have”.

Every day I am reminded of how rich my life is with friends, loved ones, amazing work, and health.  Today, was a special reminder. On a day when people share gifts, feast and celebrate, I received a heart warming smile from a seven year old who has nothing. I felt touched by an angel.

If you would like to help provide medical treatment to Maria, Mohamad and other children like them please visit http://www.pcrf.net

If you would like to support families like Maria and Mohamad’s family, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/live2give

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#run4life – Day 5

Let the games begin!!

How it will work: I run.. you support..  the challenge is real for both of us. It isn’t always easy to give and give generously.  It is equally challenging for me to run.  With my history of cardiac arrhythmia and health challenges, running is going to be tough.  But having lived through 12 surgeries, with the first one at age 14, I am all to familiar with how tough it is to have medical issues as a child. This is why the children of the PCRF are getting my support, and hopefully yours.

DONATE

the causes are:

1. PCRF  – A children’s medical charity

2. PACES – A youth sports charity

you can donate as little or as much as you want.. my target is 50,000 USD to help the PCRF build a cancer treatment center.. and to expand the reach of PACES.

For more on why I’m doing this please checkout earlier posts under #run4life.

Any questions?

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#run4life – day 2

Day 2

You can do it!

I kept telling myself while training.. remembered Khalil‘s rehabilitation .. if he could walk after a few days of his prosthetic fitting, I should be able to do this!

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Baby steps.. increased my time and distance.  Got advice from a friend to alternate speed.. a faster 5 minute and a slower one.. he committed to training with me.  Ran into my old gym trainer on metro, he advised I train three times a week, and double the distance on weekends.  Your thoughts?

Goal..

Raise 50,000 USD for the PCRF & PACES

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#Run4Life

Want to help?

here’s what you can do…

  1. please stay tuned to blog updates on my training progress
  2. follow my twitter account @rchakaki and retweet with the hash-tag #run4life
  3. recommend the charities to your friends
  4. volunteer with the charities in any skill you have to offer
  5. donate generously (details will follow)

Where it all began ..

Years ago upon returning to the Middle East, I volunteered at a center for children with special needs and a center for abandoned children.  Those two experiences inspired me to to build KENZ (Arabic for Treasure), a project that would support children and youth. I wanted to focus the worlds attention on children and youth of the Arab World who seemed forgotten by the media, politics and the economic situation. I knew it would be a collaborative model, but I wasn’t clear on how I would build it; it didn’t happen, it wasn’t time.

Instead of KENZ, I find myself today representing two charities the PACES & PCRF, and supporting many causes and organizations working with children and youth in the Arab World.

My vision is to see collaboration among all individuals, charities and organizations working to enable Arab children and youth to live a prosperous and dignified life.

Tune in for more…