On August 25th, 2019, we called out for Chicagoans to come join us on our 5k walk to raise money for Yemen. Our organization, Muslim American Society of Chicago (MAS) reached out to other local organizations, church groups, and public institutions in order to have them come out to our event. Here is how we hosted the first local Walk4Yemen:
We decided that it was finally time to shed some light on an ongoing issue that is not broadcasted in the media: the famine in Yemen. Right now, Yemen is going through the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Child mortality rates are high due to the lack of clean water and food that is available to the Yemeni population. Many may not know, but the famine is a cause of the ongoing civil war; families are left devestated with no food sources.
In order to ensure that we had a successful event, we first began to contact Chicago PD and research our rights for the walk. We came to the consensus that the best thing to do that wouldn’t require a permit would be to walk on Chicago’s public sidewalks. We then started reaching out to collaborators and sponsors; our team spent several days making phone calls to local mosques, churches, park districts, and news stations. Our team leader, Lazma Deeb, then created a flyer for the event. We printed hundreds of copies and distributed them around the city. We then recruited volunteers for specific positions.
How It Went Down
On the day of the walk, volunteers began to show up at our start location (Islamic Community Center of Illinois) at around 6:30 am. We hung up signs, set up registration tables and poster making tables, and had our volunteers go to their stations. I was in charge of photography and filming while others had roles that included: T-shirt distribution, registration, security, and our walk leaders. We had Lazma hype up the crowd and we began our walk at around 8:30 am. The walkers followed the leader and our bikers made sure to stay on the sidelines alongside the walkers. The walkers walked down Narragansett Ave all the way to Wright College, located on Montrose Ave where light refreshments were served. By then, strangers had already become friends and were happily conversing together.
The event’s purpose was not solely to raise money for Yemen, but also to raise awareness. We had over 150 attendees, incuding many who traveled long distances to participate. The event served as a way to show the great impacts one person or a small group can have on the community. Although the event was not as large as marathons hosted by large corporations, it helped our team discover the power of a simple idea. With the great broadcasting and resharing of the event, we were able to spread the word to people all over the globe. If you have an idea or have a way to contribute to an issue you deem important, don’t hesitate to do it! Form a small group and allow your ideas to turn into a grand event.
(Photos by Author)