Obed: Running with New Purpose. From Comrades marathons to running for children in need.
“I grew up very poor. I didn’t even have a dream of going to study at a tertiary institution because I didn’t think it was possible from my family, and also I was not informed of possibilities that existed like bursaries and scholarships etc. I was a bright student so my mother, by God’s grace, had a dream for me, and I am where I am because of her dream.”
During office hours, Obed is now a public servant working for the government of South Africa as a Chief Director. Outside of that however, he has a passion for long-distance running.
“I have been running since the late 90’s but started doing races when I moved from Soweto to Pretoria in 2001. My first Comrades Marathon was in 2010 and have since completed six of those. I have tried to enter the Comrades marathon every year since then, and that demanded that I prepare, which made the running consistent.” He has now completed many marathons and ultra-marathons like the Two Oceans, Loskop, Om Die Dam and of course, the Comrades.
This year he will be taking on a new challenge:
Every year during the Comrades marathon we pass the Ethembeni School for the physically disabled. The kids, on their wheelchairs, some blind, some deaf, will be out on the route encouraging and supporting the runners. I’ve seen a few runners shed a tear when passing this school. In 2018 when passing the school I told myself that I cannot continue run
ning 90 kilometres and not raise any funds for those that are in need. Unfortunately, I didn’t run in 2019, and 2020 was cancelled. I have been looking for opportunities to raise funds and I contacted my friend Selepe, a HOPE worldwide volunteer, as I have seen him participate in events to raise funds for Early Childhood Development (ECD). I then contacted the HOPE worldwide SA to understand the work they are doing on ECD. I was touched by the stories that Dr Marc Aguirre, the Country Director, shared with me on how many children are suffering, and that may not change as their early development is compromised because of extreme poverty. I searched for material about ECD, read the South African Policy on ECD
and I now understand that there is a way we can contribute to breaking the chain of poverty and that is by improving ECD. Unfortunately, the task is too big, with a lot of resources required to support this work and the organisation involved. This is why I chose to raise funds for ECD. I believe that with my little contribution, a few lives will be changed forever.”
I know there are many, many children who have been where I was, with no dream, no hope because of poverty. And some have given up, given into substance abuse and crime.
I want to contribute to changing the course of that little 2 or 3 year old boy or girl, in
a squatter camp, who may dream but his/her dream shattered by poverty. I want to contribute towards making his/her life full of hope and belief as they get the best Early Childhood Development. God has blessed me abundantly. He has blessed me with the ability to run far, to be patient, and to persevere through adversity, and I want to use this blessing to bless others.
Or by sending using the reference ObedRun when sending an EFT to HOPE worldwide SA with the Banking Details on https://hopeworldwidesa.org/donate-now/. Email proof of payment to email@example.com cc. firstname.lastname@example.org
You can follow him on his journey on instagram at @meringobaloyi