Go Fund Me, Somaliland Marathon

I started a Go Fund Me campaign. For #givingtuesday, I’d love Djibouti Jones readers to consider supporting this project for university education in Somaliland and my third marathon.

If you donate, check out the awards. Here’s one, the Girls Run 2 button:

As of this posting, we have 17% of the needed funds. Thank you!

Another Marathon and I Need Your Help

Dear Djibouti Jones Reader,

I’m going to ask you for something. I try not to ask for a lot or to ask very often. I will, eventually, ask you to buy, read, and help promote my upcoming book, but that won’t be for quite a while.

This time, on #givingtuesday and beyond, I want to ask you to help me participate in a race and to help me fund a University degree for a student in Somaliland. Click here to go straight to the Go Fund Me campaign.

What’s the race?

It is a marathon. 26.2 miles. 42 kilometers.

Where?

Hargeisa, Somaliland.

Am I sure women are allowed and welcome?

Yup. This is the first ever full marathon in Somaliland and the directors are explicitly encouraging females to run.

Will there be many?

I have no idea. There is also a 10k, so I assume there will be women in that race, too. But a few or many, no problem. I’m used to running alone. I’m used to being the only female I see running and I’m even used to coming in absolute last place. Though all newbie runners fear being last, I am the only person I know who has quite literally finished last (still got a huge trophy. Third woman. Out of three.)

Will it be safe?

I have asked the director several questions about security. Living is inherently unsafe. You can read what I think about safety here and here and here. (Christianity Today, Brain Child, and Babble)

Why do it?

I really want the t-shirt.

Also? What are some of the things I love most? Living in the Horn of Africa. Check. Running. Check. Education development. Check.

Education what?

The race doubles as a fundraiser. Each international participant is challenged to raise enough money to fund a full scholarship for an entire 4-year degree program for a Somaliland university student.

The race fee includes security, translation, housing, a trip to see a few historical sites in Somaliland, and special visit with the Somali runners participating. So my total cost is this fee, plus my flight and visa, plus what I hope to contribute to the scholarship program.

This is what my husband and I do – education and running (and so much more!) in the Horn. Plus, I hope to write about this experience, including the horrible, miserable training I’ve already been enduring in Djibouti. I always said it was too hot to train for a marathon in Djibouti. Well…a marathon in Somaliland is what it took to inspire me, I guess.

I’ve completed two marathons, 5 and 6 years ago. I have absolutely no time goal for this one because it will be warm. My training has been really, really hard. The conditions will be uniquely challenging. I will be fully covered, which will increase the heat factor and the rash factor. But I know I can do it. It won’t be pretty and it won’t be impressive, but I can accomplish this goal.

Will you help me? If each person who reads Djibouti Jones gave even $1.00, I’d beat my goal: $3,500. (Anything donated over that goal will also go toward funding education in the Horn.)

I opened a Go Fund Me campaign. Here’s what I’ll do for those who donate.

$10.00 donation: I will write your name on my clothes or skin so you can run the race with me

$20.00 donation: I’ll do the above, plus you’ll receive a free copy of the Djiboutilicious e-Cookbook

$30.00 or more: all that, plus I’ll send you a Girls Run 2 button, made by my sister, in honor of the girls running team I helped launch here in Djibouti (while supplies last).

If you’ve enjoyed Djibouti Jones over the years, been encouraged or helped by even a few of my posts and essays, would you consider saying ‘thank you’ by donating to this race and university scholarship?

Thank YOU for reading along!

Wishing you many happy miles,

Rachel

Click here to go straight to the Go Fund Me campaign.

My First Heartbreak (it isn’t what you think)

Quick link: Borama, Somaliland. My First Heartbreak

This is in the second ever issue of Hidden Compass, a fantastic new travel e-zine.

Here is a link to the full magazine, check out the beautiful photos and stories.

I never really had a boyfriend-related heartbreak. The first boy I ever loved loved me back and we’re still married 18 years later. What a gift.

This story is about expectations, falling in love with a place and losing it and about what I still hold on to about our first months in Africa. It includes photos by Matt Erickson.

The dirt from Borama, wrenched from the earth and hurled down in swirling cyclones before a thunderstorm, seeped into me. It would stay for weeks beneath my fingernails, no matter how hard I scrubbed.

I said Borama was beautiful and my husband laughed every time. Was it the bumpy dirt road? The herds of goats? The expanse of empty earth, pock-marked with thorn bushes and camel trains? Was it the layer of dust that settled like a mosquito net over every surface and shimmered in the late afternoon Somalia sun? Maybe it was the distance from modernity, the isolation.

I insisted. Borama was beautiful, in a desperate way. The expanse that spoke of emptiness also spoke of wild adventure and discovery, freedom. The hollow drumbeat of a wooden stick on a yellow plastic jug so my neighbors could dance, the rancid flavor of laxoox, sorghum flatbread, offset by sugary tea.

Twelve years away from Borama, Somaliland and I still feel a sweet, wistful affection, a connection that dredges up fondness for the village that ejected me. We will never be more than 10 months when I was 24. We will never be more than my first footsteps in Africa on a journey that is ongoing. That is why I still love Borama. That is why, when I write, I still imagine myself sitting at a rough, hand-crafted desk in front of a wall painted half white and half aqua, listening to the mosque on the corner, the chickens in the yard, the donkey next door.

Click here to read the rest of this essay for the Chasing Demons column: Borama, Somaliland. My First Heartbreak

Did you ever suffer a place-based heartbreak?

The Bookshelf: New(ish) Books about Somalia

A Man of Good Hope by Jonny Steinberg

This is the story of a Somali man who fled the civil war as a child and ended up in South Africa. From the book’s Amazon page:

“Throughout, A Man of Good Hope is a complex, affecting, ultimately hopeful portrait of Asad’s search for salvation, suffused with dreams and desires and a need to leave something permanent on this earth.”

The Mayor of Mogadishu: A Story of Chaos and Redemption in the Ruins of Somalia by Andrew Harding

This is a book about, clearly, the mayor of Mogadishu. I actually met this man at a conference several years ago, while I was working as a translator and sat at his table. I can only imagine what his life looks like in these devastating days after the awful bomb a few weeks ago.

From the Amazon page:

“The Mayor of Mogadishu is a rare an insider’s account of Somalia’s unraveling, and an intimate portrayal of one family’s extraordinary journey.”

Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus: Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations by Stefanie Chambers

This book compares the lives and adjustments of the Somali communities in Minnesota and in Ohio. As a native Minnesotan, I’ll give you a spoiler: they are more integrated in MN than in Ohio. This is most recently evident in the election of Ilhan Omar to legislature. This book is more academic than the others on this list, but it is well-researched and both informative and challenging.

From Somalia to Snow: How Central Minnesota Became Home to Somalis by Hudda Ibrahim

Speaking of Somalis in Minnesota, how did they come to settle here? I remember going out with young Somali girls when we lived in Minneapolis and my friends wore high heels and thin dresses even in the middle of January, while I stomped around in boots and fluffy winter coats.

I have not had the chance to read this book yet, but am glad to see Somali women producing their own works about their experiences and community in the US.

An Olympic Dream: The Story of Samia Yusuf Omar by Reinhard Kleist

This graphic story follows the journey of Somali Olympian Samia Yusuf Omar, from Mogadishu to the London Olympic games, across North Africa, and into the sea as she attempts to cross to Europe. Samia is seeking a better life, where she can run and live free. The book highlights the plight of so many refugees trying to cross into Europe.

I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing Samia for Running Times and Runners World in 2008, both in Ethiopia and in Djibouti.

What have you been reading lately?

If you are living outside your home country, do you read books by and about the people you now live among? If you don’t – you should!

other Bookshelf posts about Somalia:

Me Against My Brother

About Somalia, by Somalis

*photo by Matt Erickson

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Mogadishu On Fire

 

This is a song my sister wrote a while ago. It is incredibly relevant. “Dogfight” by Stephanie Tamasweet.

I had another post planned for this morning but how I can write or post about anything after what happened in Mogadishu this weekend?

276 dead. And rising.

300 wounded. At the very least. Severely wounded.

The worst terrorist bomb in Somalia’s history.

That’s saying something, in Somalia.

Turkey sent an airplane full of medical supplies and staff. Djibouti sent an airplane full of medical supplies and staff, including the Minister for Health. Somali rescue workers are doing an incredible job, they pulled a young man from the rubble, alive, after he was buried more than 40 hours. And yet. For a nation already ravaged by violence, this seems especially devastating. There had been so many signs of Somalia coming back to life. And now what?

To see some of the work being done in Mogadishu, check out these Instagram accounts:

vintage_somalia

aarmaanta

But it isn’t just Somalia. It is among the Rohinga. Where a young woman’s baby is ripped from her arms, tossed into a fire, and while her child burns, she is gang raped. It is Las Vegas. Where couples out for a night on the town are slaughtered from above. Where we are forced to reckon with what we have collectively done to our planet when water comes where it shouldn’t and fires rage without end.

Dear God have mercy. Mercy. Its all I can think. People want to go to school, buy spinach in the market, watch movies, eat watermelon, play football, have access to a hospital, stay in hotels, eat pizza, swim in the ocean. People want to fall in love and give birth and dance at graduation parties and pray in community. People want to go on long runs and gaze up at a starry sky and listen to their grandchildren giggle.

When did we start hating ourselves so much that we decided killing other people could cure our brokenness?

When did someone’s peaceful day become an opportunity for carnage? Someone’s shop/ice cream parlor/bookstore/concert hall/hotel/movie theater/elementary school/dance club a place for horror?

When did fearlessly wielding death become a facade of power and strength?

When did men become gods?

How long must the world remain on fire before the God of mercy hears?

When I first heard the song Dogfight, I sat down on the floor in my bedroom and wept. When I heard what happened in Mogadishu, I listened to it at least five times on repeat. I asked my sister for permission to share it and she bravely said yes.

That’s how we move forward. Bravely. Together. Sharing our gifts and our brokenness and refusing to let hatred have the final word.

Have a listen, if you didn’t already, or maybe again. Have a cry. Pray for mercy.

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