LONDON: UK-based international humanitarian charity Penny Appeal has announced that it has partnered with the Beirut Marathon Association and their “Right to Run” initiative to create a platform that would support children of all backgrounds in Lebanon.
Ridwana Wallace-Laher, Penny Appeal’s CEO, attended the press conference in Lebanon to kick off the initiative, the charity said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The weekend witnessed the launch of an inspiring program that promotes fitness, empowerment, and equality for all, with a special focus on underprivileged communities,” the charity added.
The “Right to Run” series is an annual celebration organized by the Beirut Marathon Association, which also champions gender equality and the need for a more inclusive society.
The program includes a range of races and activities, bringing together children aged 7 to 17 of diverse backgrounds and abilities.
“United by their shared commitment to breaking barriers and advocating for inclusion, these young runners are set to make a powerful impact in the future,” the charity said. “Penny Appeal is proud to be the lead sponsor in the delivery of this project, contributing toward our shared vision for a more inclusive society.”
It also said the event was “a bittersweet moment” for Wallace-Laher, who was in Beirut for the second time since the explosion at the port in August 2020.
“It only took a few minutes for the blast to destroy large portions of the city and cause mass devastation, but the people of Lebanon had been experiencing hardship and neglect for years before this tragedy occurred,” Penny Appeal stated.
A large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the Port of Beirut exploded on Aug. 4, killing at least 218 people, injuring 7,000, leaving nearly 300,000 people homeless, and causing $15 billion in property damage.
As part of the charity’s Disaster Response Team, Wallace-Laher was on the ground delivering critical aid in the days following the tragedy.
In the aftermath, Penny Appeal stated that with its partners, the charity was able to help 23,691 people in Lebanon, delivering 21,000 hot meals, 7,080 food packs and 2,330 hygiene kits. The aid teams also provided 500 medical consultations, as well as shelter and community psychosocial support.
“Three years later, Ridwana is back in Beirut, remembering the lives that were lost in the 2020 blast while working toward building futures and opening opportunities for generations to come,” Penny Appeal stated.
Wallace-Laher reportedly said at the press conference on Tuesday: “As I stand before you in this beautiful city of Beirut, I am reminded of the heartbreaking scenes I witnessed firsthand in 2020 at the site of the explosion, and my heart is broken as I remember all of those who were affected by this horrific tragedy.”
“Out of such a horrific calamity, however, we also saw the very best of communities, with everyone coming together to help, support, and rebuild the lives of those affected.
“The love, strength of community, and unparalleled compassion that I witnessed in Lebanon have stayed with me ever since, and I’m really grateful to all of you for allowing me and Penny Appeal the opportunity to come back to Beirut today for the ‘Right to Run’ 2023,” Wallace-Laher added.