100 Mile Challenge!
The good news is that the fact that you're reading this means you already know that I’ve chosen to raise money for The UNHCR by walking 100 miles in July. Mind you, I do not work for UNHCR. I am not a spokesperson for UNHCR. What I say as an individual is not on behalf of UNHCR.
I am a person moved by a cause and I have seen the UNHCR do incredibly effective work at helping that cause.
A lot of you have asked me who the UNHCR is. They are the United Nations Refugee Agency. They are nonpartisan – they do NOT take sides. They work with ALL governments around the world to find safe options for 70.8 million “forcibly displaced” individuals around the globe to live in safety with dignity and peace. They have one goal and one goal only and that is to help us end the this great humanitarian crisis of our time.
A lot of you have also asked me what it means to be “displaced” and or a “refugee”.
Contrary to some sad common misconceptions, refugees are not terrorists. They are not extremists. They are not morally suspect. They are not migrants. They are not coming to take our jobs. They are not burdens on society, or a drain on the economy showing up for government handouts, they are not “other”, or any pariah like label they may have been branded with. The exact opposite is true.
Refugees are people who have fled violence, war and persecution. No one chooses to be a refugee. Refugees are sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, teachers, nurses, artists, and individuals looking to live with dignity in safety and peace - just like you or me. They might not have a choice in fleeing, but we all have a choice in whether or not we help. Here’s how I’m helping and appealing to you for your help. Refugees must walk literally millions of miles a year to find safety. I’m walking 100 miles in solidarity with them to raise awareness and funds.
Those funds will go to the UNHCR and I have seen first hand where that money goes on my 3-day trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I stayed in a UNHCR refugee settlement with both Congolese and South Sudanese. I walked with them. I talked with them. They showed me their scars from bullet wounds, blades, and shrapnel. They told me their stories.
A 15 year old girl recounted her parents being slain in front of her. A husband told me about the rape of his wife and daughters by “soldiers”. A mother shared her devastation at losing two children in poacher traps in the African wilderness while fleeing to the border.
I could go on… it goes on… and not just in South Sudan. It goes on everyday for 70.8 million scattered across the globe. They are tortured. Put to work as slaves. Raped. Massacred.
I’m not telling you these things to try and manipulate you and “pull at your heartstrings”. I’m sharing their stories with you to help you understand who they are, why they are forced into the circumstances they are, and why they need our help.
These funds WILL buy life saving necessities: clean water, food, and medicine, clothing, shelter, emergency kits etc. It will help build more schools, health clinics etc.
There is so much to know about this issue and I encourage you to know more. This is not about any kind of policy. It’s not about taking sides. It’s about being human. Please consider joining me in July to walk. Get in shape with me. Raise funds. Improve all our lives. Join at www.stepwithjillian.org