INDIANAPOLIS – Wanted: Hoosiers who will lace up their sneakers and run for peace Sept. 28 in Eldoret, Kenya.
Hoosiers can take a personal stand for peace by participating in the MUKESCO Peace Run, said Ian McIntosh, director of international partnerships in the IUPUI Office of International Affairs and one of the race organizers. The run will take place in an area that was rocked by violence six years ago following allegations of voting irregularities.
Indiana residents and organizations have embraced Eldoret and other western Kenya projects, McIntosh said. “Now they can join hundreds of others to show that people of different cultures, tribes, races, backgrounds and religious faiths can come together peacefully.”
The race is open to all runners, regardless of abilities, who register for the event. A $100 donation is requested from international runners.
The peace run will include 12 categories of races of varying distances, from 12 kilometers to fun runs of a shorter distance. There will be nine teams anchored in the nine villages surrounding Moi University near Eldoret. The teams will be named after the constituent parts or ingredients of long-term peace-building: love, joy, bliss, unity, harmony, hope, happiness, care and trust.
These teams will have at their core a full representation of village members, young and old, boys and girls, men and women, seniors, mothers and babies, and people with disabilities. To this foundation will be added Moi University students and community members of multiple tribes, religious faiths and cultures, plus international representatives.
Each team will be anchored by a champion runner from Eldoret, including Kip Keino, Moses Tanui, Patrick Sang and Lorna Kiplagat.
The diverse make-up of the teams is a far cry from the experiences many in Kenya had growing up, where they had little or no contact with members of other tribes or persons with a different religious faith, much less people from other countries, McIntosh said.
The separation of one tribe from another is believed to have played a role when members of one tribe were set upon members of another tribe following allegations of voting irregularities in 2007, he said.
Because everyone is running for peace and understanding, as well as for the development of rural Kenya, everyone will be a winner, McIntosh said. The peace run prizes will be community assets. The top prize is a new well for the one of the villages. Other prizes include school uniforms, books and development of nearby cultural tourism facilities.
Moi University, Eldoret, was selected for the peace run because of its strong reputation as being a “university of peace,” where diversity is cherished and social inclusion is promoted, McIntosh said. Indiana University, particularly its IUPUI campus, has been in partnership with Moi University for over 20 years. The USAID AMPATH program is world famous for its fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Sponsors of the event include Moi University, the IUPUI Office of International Affairs and the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management, Athletics Kenya, AMPATH, Rivatex, Colgate, Forus Shoes, Medals 4 Mettle, Kip Keino, Ball State University and Ball State’s Center for Peace and Conflict Studies.
Dr. Sotiris Hji-Avgoustis, chair and professor of family and consumer sciences at Ball State, is a member of the peace run organization committee.