Samantha Gash, a 31-year-old ultramarathon runner from Melbourne, undertook a gruelling run across the diverse terrain to raise awareness on the multiple barriers to accessing education in India.
Kicking off on August 22, Samantha has run over 3,000kms from one of the driest deserts in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan to the East of India, ending in Shillong, which is one of the wettest places in the world. She has crossed 8 states in 12 weeks.
This 12-week challenge also invited runners and walkers of all ages from across the world to form their own teams, track the distances they have crossed and match it against Samantha's.
"I feel privileged to have been able to run across India and use it as an opportunity to experience how other people live. It's one thing to hear about India's diversity and richness of culture, but it's another thing to be able to immerse yourself in it," said Samantha.
As part of the Run India campaign - Samantha, who is also a passionate advocate for social change - visited 18 World Vision India's Area Development Projects across India and got the opportunity to delve deeper into the challenges facing Indian communities.
"The focus of this project isn't about running a large distance across India. For me, it's been a chance to identify how individuals and the community can come together to overcome adversity. My constant source of motivation was having the perspective that no struggle I've faced in this run would come close to what many people in India experience on a daily basis," Samantha added.
Sony Varghese Thomas, Group Director, Public Engagement at World Vision India said, "On behalf of all the children in the communities that we serve, we want to thank Samantha for her passion to raise awareness on the barriers to education that children face across India. We value her interactions with all the children and families she has met in this journey. Her run has inspired many."
Samantha has raised a little over Rs 70,86,000 as of today for World Vision's projects working in the areas of malnutrition, access to water and sanitation, child marriage and gender bias.