May El-Khalil: Making peace is a marathon

19 Aug

This is a great TED Talk. My friend shared this inspiring talk with me and wanted to share same with you dear friends. May El-Khalil is a true hero and beacon for peace. Her personal journey from a fatal accident to start Beirut Marathon and make it a unifying force in a strife stricken country is truly inspirational. The talk resonated with me in many ways.

Brief Bio of May El-Khalil :

In this wonderful talk, she says ” I used to be a marathon runner. Long distance running was not only good for my well-being but it helped me meditate and dream big. So the longer distances I ran, the bigger my dreams became, until one fateful morning, and while training, I was hit by a bus. I nearly died, was in a coma, stayed at the hospital for two years, and underwent 36 surgeries to be able to walk again.

As soon as I came out of my coma, I realized that I was no longer the same runner I used to be, so I decided, if I couldn’t run myself, I wanted to make sure that others could. So out of my hospital bed, I asked my husband to start taking notes, and a few months later, the marathon was born. ” Truest spirit.

Further says ” Organizing a marathon as a reaction to an accident may sound strange, but at that time, even during my most vulnerable condition, I needed to dream big. I needed something to take me out of my pain, an objective to look forward to. I didn’t want to pity myself, nor to be pitied, and I thought by organizing such a marathon, I’ll be able to pay back to my community, build bridges with the outside world, and invite runners to come to Lebanon and run under the umbrella of peace.”

More ” For almost two years, we went all over the country and even visited remote villages. I personally met with people from all walks of life — mayors, NGOs, schoolchildren, politicians, militiamen, people from mosques, churches, the president of the country, even housewives. I learned one thing: When you walk the talk, people believe you. Many were touched by my personal story, and they shared their stories in return. It was honesty and transparency that brought us together. We spoke one common language to each other, and that was from one human to another. Once that trust was built, everybody wanted to be part of the marathon to show the world the true colors of Lebanon and the Lebanese and their desire to live in peace and harmony. ”

May El-Khalil says in last November 2012, over 33,000 runners from 85 different nationalities participated in Beirut Marathon. Neighboring countries like Iraq,Syria an Egypt are seeking her and her teams expertise to organize such a marathon.

One woman’s grit. One woman’s spirit. One one woman’s dream. In a way she is ” Nelson Mandela of running”.

I love sports. I love running. I feel sports is a great equalizer and does not matter which strata of society or social walk we come from, creed,color,ideology, nothing matters. Only what we do matters. Sports then is redemption.

I had read with joy about first ever Palestinian marathon:

I loved this talk. I learnt from this courageous lady’s Journey:

– The power of a decision.
– The power to manifest something positive out of personal anguish and pain.
– The power of sharing and including every one in a dream.

I believe women are true change agents and heroes. Their resolve to do good is unmistakable. Cheers to May El-Khalil !

Hope you like this inspiring TED Talk. Have a nice day friends. Thank you!

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