We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
Apparently AUA is good at attracting supporters who are avid runners. Eric’s ultra marathon, 54 miles through Morocco, is rapidly approaching. Today, we have another advocate named Erin who is gearing up to run 430km, over 267 miles, across The Gambia.
She is running in support of the Nova Scotia Gambia Association as a project entitled Love4Gambia. This organization is a proud member of the America’s Unofficial Ambassadors directory. NSGA operates three programs in The Gambia in the areas of HIV/AIDS prevention, curtailing the spread of malaria, and bringing land mine injuries to an end. They are utilizing peer education, theater, interactive presentations, radio and community cinema to disseminate information and accomplish their goals of educating the youth. All of the money which Erin raises will go directly to supporting these invaluable programs.
Erin has a long history of volunteering in Africa. Her first African service experience was in 1999 on a student service program to Zimbabwe. She is a registered nurse and first volunteered with the NSGA in the Summer of 2007. She was working on the peer education program for reproductive health. Working in the classroom showed her the compassion and genuine curiosity to learn that her Gambian students held. It was these experiences which persuaded her to become more and more involved in the organization. She serves on the board and is undertaking on this run all because of the inspiration provided to her through seeing first hand the good that volunteering can bring.
While in The Gambia in 2007, Erin was able to continue her love of running with a local man who goes by Spiderman (after the spider which protected the prophet Mohammed). They ran every morning at six. This undoubtedly influenced her decision to run across the country.
The run itself is a seemingly impossible trek. Erin will begin on July 7, running more than a half marathon every single day, for 17 days. Not only is the distance incredible, but it is at the height of the Gambian rainy season. This means she will have to account for temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit, a hot sun and incredibly humid atmosphere! She has been hard at work on a rigorous training regimen to prepare herself for the challenges she will face. She will also be followed by a friend and nurse, Ashley, who has also volunteered in The Gambia. There will also be two Gambian NGSA staff who will be coming along for logistical support.
Erin’s run is first and foremost in support of the NGSA, but it is also in support of volunteerism as a whole. Volunteering in a Muslim majority nation like The Gambia with an AUA approved organization such as NGSA can be an amazing and fulfilling experience. It clearly changed Erin’s life. If you’re interested in having a similar experience, please look into our directory and Mosaic Scholarship program. No matter what you’re interested in, you should be sure to check out Erin’s website and blog where she will be chronicling her tough journey.