By Al Qalam Reporter
Twenty eight South Africans have joined some 7000 runners from around the world today (Friday) in Bethlehem – in the West Bank – to participate in the famous Palestine Marathon to express solidarity with the Palestinian people against Israeli Apartheid.
The South African group is participating under the banner of charity organization, Penny Appeal South Africa. They have also distributed over 800 hampers to the poor in two local refugee camps in the area.
Al Qalam caught up with Shahnaaz Paruk, the SA CEO of Penny Appeal, just before the group was preparing to register for the Palestine Marathon in Manger Square, in the small suburb of town of Beit Sahour. “Here we will receive race packs, bibs and entries, making the surreal experience of participating in the 2019 Palestine Marathon a reality,” she said.
She said the South African group members were all excited to part of this momentous annual marathon that shows solidarity with the oppressed people of that troubled land.
“The Marathon which takes participants along the Apartheid Wall, and through the quaint hills and alleyways of Bethlehem, holds a special significance for the many participants – all here are in solidarity with the people of Palestine, and to create awareness around human rights. Significantly, the trip coincides with SA Human Rights Day.
“Despite delays experienced by some at Tel Aviv airport, the team is excited to be participating in the event.”
“Yesterday, (Thursday), the team visited two refugee camps in Bethlehem to distribute food packs to families. Penny Appeal has been active in the area, and a visit to the camps was planned into the itinerary. Wherever we go, warm smiles greet us on the street; well wishers greet us at every corner, and the greats who had walked these streets over centuries echo in our ears. Hearts are happy and the Team SA with Penny Appeal is ready to pound the streets for a great cause!”
Khatija Moosa, who describes herself as an “accountant, traveller, serendipitous seeker and curious”, wrote in a blog post: “My decision to run the Palestine Marathon incorporates many goals that are close to my heart. I’m excited to be part of the Penny Appeal Team. We will be visiting refugee camps during our time prior to the run. I’m thrilled at the opportunity to meet new people and have the whole marathon experience – and solely for the benefits for fellow Palestinians
“Running has always been something I‘ve wanted to do. And now I get to incorporate it with what I love most…helping people. This marathon is about achieving a personal goal more than anything else.”