Girls Gotta Run

We have huge news!

Remember the jaw-dropping $83,000 that we raised at Gems & Java? We have some exciting news to share about where some of those funds are headed.

If you’ve been following our Girls Gotta Run profiles this summer, you know just how powerful an impact that program can have on a young lady in Ethiopia. We began by sponsoring five athletic scholars, and we’ve spoken to those lovely girls about how the program has enriched their day-to-day – helping them get the nutrition, exercise, knowledge and friendship that they need to live whole, happy lives and dream for the future.

But now we are going to touch even more lives. We are so excited to announce that we will now be sponsoring 22 athletic scholars through the Girls Gotta Run Foundation! That’s right – TWENTY TWO!

Check out this post for all the details about the Girls Gotta Run Foundation. An athletic scholarship provides one young lady with everything from running equipment to healthy meals to life skills classes to medical care. The program even includes the girls' mothers, inviting them to learn about financial literacy and form a savings group.

Suffice it to say, this is an organization working hard to create sustainable change in Ethiopia, and we are proud to be a partner.

Meet Yeurosalem!

When she grows up, Yeurosalem is going to be the best runner in the world – oh, and a surgeon, too.

Athletic scholar Yeurosalem.

Athletic scholar Yeurosalem.

And her parents are her biggest cheerleaders. Yeurosalem’s mom and dad are committed to getting their daughter a good education. Two years ago, when times were tough, Yeuroalem’s mom, Aynalew, spoke to the principal to see if there was any help the family could receive.

“I need her to have a higher education. Even now, she has more knowledge than me," Aynalew said.

Aynalew said she would do anything she could to keep her daughter in school, even cut back on her own meals to save money.

Luckily, she didn't have to.

That’s when Yeurosalem joined Girls Gotta Run.

Aynalew is so proud of the work that her daughter is doing with school and sport.

She doesn’t want to influence her daughter’s future career choice – she’s behind Yeurosalem no matter what.

Yeurosalem at school with her mom, Aynalew

Yeurosalem at school with her mom, Aynalew

And Girls Gotta Run has offered confidence and a sense of empowerment.

“This program means big impact in my life,” Yeurosalem told us.

Watching her friends in Girls Gotta Run helped demonstrate to Yeurosalem the power of a group of strong and ambitious young people.

“They can solve problems together – not because we are females together, but because we have the potential,” she said.

Yeurosalem loves math and English. But she’s also an avid athlete. And growing up with three sisters and two brothers, she had lots of siblings with whom to play soccer.

All that activity takes fuel. Before Girls Gotta Run, it was tough for Yeurosalem’s family to scrape together a lunch to send with her to school.

They worried she might get sick and be forced to miss class.

Now, she has three meals a day – and even a snack after practice. 

Aynalew hopes her daughter will pay it forward.

“I raised them with a lot of suffering. I wish they will have a better life and that they will help others, because they have received help.”

Meet Biruk!

Before Biruk started Girls Gotta Run, she didn’t hear many people talking about the accomplishments or power of female Ethiopians.

“I didn’t get the chance to know about women’s potential,” she said.

Now she’s exposed to an almost daily dose of girl power inspiration.

Biruk, one of the athletic scholars MWAHFE sponsors through the Girls Gotta Run Foundation

Biruk, one of the athletic scholars MWAHFE sponsors through the Girls Gotta Run Foundation

The life skills lessons, the practices – and the fun! – she gets through Girls Gotta Run have allowed her to develop friendships, too.

When she’s not running, Biruk’s favourite subject is geography.

She wants to go to university one day, and dreams of being a journalist. She wants to give back to Ethiopia.

“We need to help the rural area.”

Biruk walks about 15 minutes to school every day. She is so thankful to be a part of Girls Gotta Run, where she can count on a healthy snack – her favourite thing to eat after practice is a banana – and running clothes and shoes to help fuel her passion.

I feel better in my health. I’m getting stronger every day.
— Biruk

But Biruk loved running long before she became an athletic scholar.

“I love the exercising,” she said. “I feel better in my health. I’m getting stronger every day.”

Meet Dagmarit!

Exercise can change everything.

Running helps Dagmarit feel strong and confident. She's one of our sponsored athletic scholars through Girls Gotta Run.

“I am very thankful for this program,” she said. “I was so happy to join this group.”

The three workouts she does with her Girls Gotta Run teammates each week leave Dagmarit feeling healthy.

The exercise and sport is good for everyone.
— Dagmarit

But those practices also help the girls bond. They put everyone in a better mood and improve their behaviour off the track.

“The exercise and sport is good for everyone,” Dagmarit said.

And the life skills lessons in the program help her learn about topics that wouldn’t be discussed in the classroom – everything from healthy relationships to hygiene.

Those sessions empower the athletic scholars.

“I know myself, even,” she said.

Because she shares the experience with several dozen other young ladies, there’s a strong sense of camaraderie.

Dagmarit, a quiet young lady, feels comfortable asking anything and everything without getting shy.

Before the program, she didn’t have many friends. But that all changed when she joined Girls Gotta Run. And Dagmarit’s family is happy to know she has those relationships in her life.

When she's behind a desk, Dagmarit enjoys studying math and physics. She hopes to one day be a pilot.

We can't wait to see how high she flies!

Meet Yenealem!

Before Girls Gotta Run, Yenealem didn’t have many friends to count on.

After joining the program, that all changed. Not only did she build relationships and develop social skills, she created deep and meaningful friendships.

“Now, I have many best friends,” she said.

The life skills programming helped her learn about to talk with her peers how to share love with friends and community.

Yenealem saw a physical transformation, too.

Athletic activity used to leave her winded and tired. Now she can run sprints, through practices, and around the schoolyard.

“Before, I was very tired when I did a minute of sports. Now I can run for a very long time,” she said.

And the athletic scholarship that Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia provides makes it possible for Yenealem to get a good education. Her favourite subjects are physics and chemistry.

Before Girls Gotta Run, Yenealem’s mom was trying to support many children and pay tuition for her school-age siblings. It was getting to be too much. But thanks to the scholarship, Yenealem can continue to get a good education. Her mom hopes it will lead her daughter to “a higher place” in her future.

Before, I was very tired when I did a minute of sports. Now I can run for a very long time. - Yenealem

Meet Wubalem!

Wubalem isn’t the only young woman in her household who learns from the Girls Gotta Run program.

She takes the skills that she learns during practice and life skills workshops at Abba Pascal Girls School, in Soddo, Ethiopia, and brings them home to share with her little sister.

She’s grateful, not just for the knowledge, but for the chance to wear a uniform, eat a healthy lunch, and go to school.

Running shoes and injera – those things are tangible. What’s not so easy to grasp is the transformation that Girls Gotta Run has inspired in Wubalem.

Before Girls Gotta Run, Wubalem didn’t realize that girls could play sports just like boys.

The program has helped show her the power of female athletes – and women in general – and recognize her own strength in the process.

That confidence is something that extends far beyond the track.

She has more energy. Her friendships have grown deeper.

And the athletic scholarship allows Wubalem to dream.

She loves English, biology and physics. Wubalem is a dedicated student and she devotes hours to her homework after school. She thinks she might like to be an engineer one day.

Importantly, her parents support her goals and dreams. Wubalem’s father, Ersase, wants to see all of his daughters avoid early marriage.

Wubalem, her father, and her sister Tiblet at Abba Pascal Girls School

Wubalem, her father, and her sister Tiblet at Abba Pascal Girls School

He wants her to learn.

“I want her to find good places to go in life.”