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Review for Girls Gotta Run Foundation Incorporated, Washington, DC, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I joined this organization as an International Ambassador of Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF) in October 2011, after witnessing their work first hand in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In 2011, I spent four months in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as a Watson Fellow studying women’s empowerment through running. I spent four months living and training with athletes in two programs that receive funding from Girls Gotta Run Foundation, Running Across Borders and Team Tesfa’s Transitions Charity. Both of these organizations stood out to me as a particularly remarkable model for outreach programs working for women and girls’ empowerment. The determination and dedication of the athletes I worked with, who persevere in the face of all kinds of obstacles, inspired me to continue to support their efforts from afar. I have continued my advocacy I have raised funds by running races for the organization and organizing community fundraising events, such as a documentary screening.
I am thrilled about the most recent efforts of Girls Gotta Run, which are on the forefront of women’s empowerment in Ethiopia. I gave two guest lectures for a Sports Psychology course at Addis Ababa University, in which I led students studying to become professional coaching in a group discussion about the importance of athletics in Ethiopia and the role of a coach. Though higher education is expected to lead to many career opportunities, female college graduates struggle to establish an independent career in a society in which cultural norms prescribe the role of caretaker and housewife to females, while men pursue careers outside the home.
Girls Gotta Run Foundation is changing this. GGRF just recently recruited and hired the first-ever female coach in Bekoji, Ethiopia as part of their Bekoji Project. The Bekoji Running Project is a collaborative effort by Running Across Borders, the Town of Runners filmmakers Bekoji Youth and Sports Administration, and Girls Gotta Run Foundation to expand the economic opportunities of youth in Bekoji through running. Bekoji is a small farming town in the Ethiopian Highlands with an astonishing record of developing long distance runners. Girls Gotta Run Foundation is funding the training and mentorship of Bekoji’s first female coach. This is one example of the ways that the Girls Gotta Run Foundation expands leadership opportunities for girl runners, provides safe spaces for girls to train, and invests in peer mentoring.
There are many challenges and paradoxes inherent in providing social services; the question is how an organization can give most effectively, to produce the most positive long term results? GGRF does not just allocate donations, rather they provide resources for individuals to develop skills that will help them on the path to become more self-sufficient.
My experiences working with several different aid organizations around the world has been a lesson in the many challenges that they face, from resource management to social understanding. Everyone has admirable intentions, but intentions must be matched with a realistic understanding of challenges and unintended consequences, and active engagement in the work of the organization to increase the chances for positive long-term results. Girls Gotta Run Foundation employs all of the key factors to recognize and overcome the challenges in their work, and in doing so, Girls Gotta Run is a model organization for advancing the lives of girls and women in Ethiopia.

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Role:  Volunteer