Saturday, May 29th – a small group of students, teachers, and parents gathered around a small park in Bundang, South Korea. Clad in all sorts of athletic T-shirts and shorts, the participants of Fun Run for Nyaka began stretching. As the whistle blew, dust started flying with every step of the runners. Some in their shoes, some out of their shoes – a storm of dust mixed with the runners’ smiles.
Managed by an in-school club of Korea International School–also located in Bundang – Fun Run for Nyaka was a fundraising event hosted to support Nyaka Aids Orphan Project based in Uganda and founded by Jackson Kaguri. With the mission of working for “the orphans in rural Uganda to end systemic deprivation, poverty, and hunger through a holistic approach to community development, education, and healthcare,” Nyaka Aids Orphan Project provides the Ugandan orphans affected by HIV/AIDS through means of education and nutrition.
The race was divided into two groups – with one for the children and the other for the adults. The children ran a 3K race, and Jackson Kaguri, the founder of Nyaka Aids Orphan Project, joined in. Claiming that many students in Uganda attend school by walking with no shoes, Jackson Kaguri took his shoes off and waited at the starting line, along with the elated children by his side. As the children’s race ended and the adults’ race began, some teenage students from Korea International School and Seoul International School – a school located near Korea International School–took their shoes off as well. Clearly inspired by the goal of the project and Kaguri’s statement, the barefoot participants knew that every stinging step they took held meaning for the children in Uganda.
“I ran without my shoes for the race,” said Joe Kim, a junior student from Seoul International School who ran an adult’s 5K race. “It was my first time running barefoot, and even though it hurt, knowing why I was running barefoot made me feel proud of myself.”
Running was not the only aspect in Fun Run for Nyaka to support the Ugandan children. Next to the race track also stood a long row of tables, carrying a list of tempting items donated by the supporters and friends of Nyaka Project. Participants wrote down their bidding prices for each item, and contending bidders could writer a higher price underneath the previous bidder’s. The items included hygiene products from LUSH, a tea set, bottles of wine, and soap products.
Fun Run for Nyaka was a success that not only fulfilled its financial goal, but also the less material and more significant achievement of spreading the awareness among its participants. Even those who joined the run without knowing the mission and the goal of Nyaka felt differently about their run after Jackson Kaguri explained in depth about his humanitarian project.
“It was moving to hear Mr. Jackson Kaguri talk about his childhood and how he came to start Nyaka Project,” said Justin Ro, a sophomore from Seoul International School. “Really, I feel like a lot of things that are good and influential come from something as simple as human compassion.”
Keebum Kim, Grade 11
Seoul International School