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Voices of the 2018 DC Gaza 5K: Guillermo Medrano

Voices of the 2018 DC Gaza 5K: Guillermo Medrano


Guillermo Medrano has participated in the Gaza 5K since its very first year. (Remember those old school Gaza 5K shirts from 2012?!) And like many others in the DMV, it’s become something of a tradition for him.

This year, he’s out of the country but still wanted to participate and support the cause in some way, so he’s registered as a ‘virtual runner’ on Team Mokhiber. While we won’t see him in person this year, Guillermo shared a few words with us on why he so deeply believes in this cause, this event, and supporting Palestine refugees:

[UNRWA USA]: Why do you support Palestine refugees through the Gaza 5K?

[Guillermo]: The Gaza 5k is so close and dear to my heart because the Palestinian people's plight, especially that of those in Gaza, goes forgotten in our modern social media-led coverage of current events. In light of this, the work UNRWA USA does is even more important with proceeds from the race going towards UNRWA assistance for Palestine refugees in need in Gaza.

[UNRWA USA]: What brought you back to the DC Gaza 5K year after year for six years?

[Guillermo]: The fact so many of my friends have worked and volunteered this event year after year in my own hometown, growing in size and importance, makes my participation even more paramount. I'm truly saddened that I'll be missing out — for the first time in its existence — but I am so happy and proud that I'm able to pay it forward for others to participate in my stead.*

[UNRWA USA]: What is a message you’d like to share with this year’s participants in your absence?

[Guillermo]: I hope everyone participating can really be in touch with how much impact sacrificing just one Saturday morning means to those who suffer year round.


*Guillermo has generously offered a $50 donation to encourage other DMV supporters to participate in the event in his stead! So we’re giving the next 5 registrants $10 off in Guillermo’s honor — just sign up using the promo code GUILLERMO.

Voices of the 2018 DC Gaza 5K: Jews for Gaza

Voices of the 2018 DC Gaza 5K: Jews for Gaza

We will be the generation to transform our community’s support for the occupation into a call for freedom and dignity for all. And we will stand by our Palestinian cousins and support them in any ways that we can. For the last few years, we have participated in the Gaza 5K and have found it a meaningful way to connect with Palestinians and show that we are working to change our own community.
— Becca AbuRakia-Einhorn, Team Captain, "Jews for Gaza"

Meet Team Jews for Gaza. 

Fun Fact: Beyond being stellar at raising awareness and funds for mental health services in the Gaza Strip, the team consists of some rockstar runners to boot! Last year one of their team members was 4th for men and two years ago one of our team members was 1st for women!

They've participated in the Gaza 5K under the name "Jews for Gaza" for three years though there have been a few participants that predate the official team, having participated a few years longer. 

They know the cause, care deeply about Palestine refugee rights and access to mental health care, and come back year after year to show it. 

Team Captain Becca AbuRakia-Einhorn spoke to UNRWA USA on behalf of her team, sharing why they care and why they feel others should too. 

[UNRWA USA]: Why does your team join UNRWA USA for the Gaza 5K? What has brought you back to participate for a fourth year?

[Becca]: Every year, our tradition teaches us to remember both the bitterness of slavery and the joy of liberation. We recall the narrow places we’ve left through stories of persecution and resilience, in our own lives and in our people’s history. As we were dehumanized by the oppression we faced, we are now dehumanized by that which we are inflicting. Our elders told many of us that because of our history, we should oppose oppression in all the places it lives, whether it preys upon us or others.

But generations of my fellow American Jews have now watched Israel perpetuate 70 years of occupation: a system of violence and separation that deprives Palestinians of civil, political, and economic rights. 

No longer will our community be used by politicians or anyone else to justify the violation of Palestinian rights. Like those born wandering in the desert, we are rising from our people’s trauma in order to move us toward the ongoing promise of liberation. We will be the generation to transform our community’s support for the occupation into a call for freedom and dignity for all. And we will stand by our Palestinian cousins and support them in any way that we can.

For the last few years, we have participated in the Gaza 5K and have found it a meaningful way to connect with Palestinians and show that we are working to change our own community.

[UNRWA USA]: What does the tagline "moving for mental health" mean to you? Why is good mental health so important?

[Becca]: As Jews, we have grown up with our own community trauma and know how that can be passed on through generations and have wide-reaching effects. The Palestinians in Gaza have been subject to violence and oppression and deserve an outlet to process this in ways that can help themselves heal and help their communities heal too.

Voices of the 2018 DC Gaza 5K: Team Burback Birthday Bonanza

Voices of the 2018 DC Gaza 5K: Team Burback Birthday Bonanza

Meet Team Burback Birthday Bonanza: Gaza 5K veterans and passionate supporters of Palestine refugee rights

Team Burback Birthday Bonanza is not new to the Gaza 5K.

In fact, it's their third year participating. We caught up with team captain (and birthday girl) Sara Burback to learn more about why her team is back again for another year of moving for mental health. 

Sara has also run many other races in support of Palestinian rights and awareness including the Right to Movement Marathon in the West Bank. 

[UNRWA USA]: Why is your team participating in and fundraising for this year's DC Gaza 5K?

[Sara]: I run and fundraise as a way to help the people of Gaza to realize their narrative as a people is one of resilience and collective strength within their communities; that personal health is their basic human right; and that their safety and future is a priority for many Americans.


[UNRWA USA]: The DC Gaza 5K supports UNRWA's emergency programming, including mental health care. What does mental health mean to you and your team?

[Sara]: Mental health is important to me because the trauma a community carries can influence people for decades.
 

[UNRWA USA]: How are you getting your local community involved by participating in the Gaza 5K? 

[Sara]: Participating in this race every year and inviting friends to celebrate my birthday through sharing our support for the people of Gaza is a way I know I can influence change and show my community that we all have that ability to respond to crises. Moving for mental health is a great way to act!


Want your Gaza 5K team to be featured? Email us and we'll share how you're getting your community involved in supporting access to mental health for refugee kids in the Gaza Strip.