The Safe Passage mothers have begun 2013 by starting a revolution. They were tired of feeling tired, unhealthy and inactive.  Although they have been expressing these feelings for a while, the excessive amount of tamales, a mass of starchy corn based dough, during the Christmas season were the final straw. Unlike other Western Countries where a woman wouldn’t dare touch on the taboo topic of a woman’s weight, in Guatemala women will just poke at each other’s bellies and just bluntly say “you have really gotten fat.”  But for the women it was not about “being fat”, I actually once was told “the fatter the better.” For them, they longed to have that beautiful healthy feeling, to feel good about themselves and to take their bodies into their own hands.

Two power volunteers, Kelsey Komich, a very professional runner, and Hannah Sklar, another very professional runner, decided to show the women that this dream of simply feeling good was only a run away. Every Saturday morning, at 7:00 AM, the first ever Safe Passage Running Club meets at a local park, filled with trees and a wonderful running paths, where they prepare to start what some claim to be the best part of their week.

There are presently eight consistent Safe Passage Mothers and about four children participating in the Running Club. We have mother’s who run in flats, flip flops, we have mothers who run in typical Guatemalan Skirts, and we have mothers that run carrying three water bottles for their children that they have bought to share the experience with. It’s hard to think how runners could complain about wearing an Aasics Running Shoe instead of a Saucony Sneaker after the Safe Passage Running Club.

These factors, which some may consider challenges, do not even cross the mother’s mind. They find the true challenges lie within themselves – fighting through the desire to stop, setting a pace so they are not walking the whole time around our “loop” and having their bodies experience something they have never done before. And while going through this inner battle, we cackle with laughter as we run – and of course walk at times – around the park, chatting about life – children, school, friends…girl stuff. The laughing comes to a peak while we do sets of jumping jacks, sit ups and push-ups. Maybe it’s the runners high. However, I think the cackling and the joy comes more from the feeling of liberation, the feeling of accomplishing something you had never dreamed you could do, and feeling a feeling you have never felt before.

The Safe Passage Running Club plans to expand its pool to not only more mothers but to children as well.  We trained for and raced in the 5K Avon Race in Guatemala City on March 10th.

Our vision is to recruit as many Safe Passage children, mothers, fathers and grandparents to join the revolution. The revolution is happening within our Safe Passage community, taking their health, bodies and mind into their own hands.

-Hannah Sklar

Social Entrepreneurship Program Assistant Manager