Nadia Gholam: For Refugees, in Boston

Nadia Gholam: For Refugees, in Boston

Last week I had the opportunity to have an unforgettable experience in the United States. I ran the Boston Marathon thanks to the NGO World Central Kitchen, with the goal of running for refugees and the freedom of Afghan women.

I have to admit that at first I felt a little insecure, Since I have never played sports and do not consider myself a particularly athletic person. When Javier García, co-executive director of the NGO World Central Kitchen, asked me to participate in this marathon, I told him that I could not do it because of my lack of experience in this field. However, thanks to his trust in me, I finally decided to sign up and move forward.

In essence, a marathon is getting from point A to point B using only the momentum of your legs. Perhaps, with this definition and this experience, the image that comes to mind is that of the athlete. Or some friends who play sports. Or ride a bike on the weekend. Not for me While I was trying this sport, all I could think about were these people getting from point A to point B using only their legs. They are not athletes.

I ran and while doing so, I felt a mixture of bittersweet feelings, I think about all the refugees and the cause he was running for. I felt the unconditional support of thousands of people cheering on the runners, including me. She witnessed people's solidarity and compassion every step of the way: “Salute to you, Nadia! You are so strong and brave!”

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In contrast, I thought of people who walk alone or worse, in very poor company, Far from receiving encouragement along the way, they receive rejection and insults. Where are the people who encourage and give strength to these refugees who run a marathon every day to survive, not for fun? These people are running alone against the world. There are 117 million people who have run several consecutive marathons alone. 117 million are the ones who have reached the end of the race and therefore we can register them. How many of them did not pray, fell behind, and since they did not receive encouragement from anyone on the side of the road, we do not even know how many there are?

It relied on people's solidarity and compassion, but the refugees did not. I couldn't help thinking about it. These same people, who support me to reach the end of my career, will they be the same people who reject those who make the other much more difficult, more dangerous and more deadly?

In my estimation, there was a first aid post every five or eight kilometres. Doctors, nurses, water and energy drinks. All of this is perfectly arranged to serve the marathon runner who may be indisposed from the superhuman effort he has to put in to conquer such a difficult race. When I noticed the frequency of these first aid stops, and the incredible logistics behind them, I cast my mind back to 2019. On Lesbos. There, as a volunteer, I met doctors in a refugee camp who refused to treat undocumented people. The refugee who crossed the desert and the sea, and God knows what other difficulties, could not get medical help because he did not have a miserable passport?

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From Damascus to the coast is about three marathons if the road is direct. Then there is the sea. These people could not be taken care of because they did not have a document, and they probably did not take it because their house was reduced to a mountain of rubble. Here in Boston, no one asked for my passport if I needed some medical attention.

I was also impressed to see so many flags. People are proud of their country and are willing to share and live together in tolerance and diversity. I saw Palestinian flags next to Israeli flags. They both cheer for the runners. Those flags just meant “From my land, we want to send you encouragement!”, and there were no border conflicts, just pluralism and representation.

Where are the people waving their flags with pride and saying: “Refugee, from my land we want to bring you encouragement and strength, you have already arrived!”?

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