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Running for Freedom

By Fatima Ali

If I were asked what the meaning of the word life is, my answer would be, change. We get the chance to change in every single moment of our life. These changes can be started by a book, a word or experience, but in my life, it was started by the name Free to Run.

I will never forget the first time that I heard that name: Free to Run; two words that were so attractive to me. I just asked myself ‘what could be the relationship between these two words?’. After a while, I realized that it may mean that we are free to run.

I suddenly felt overjoyed at the thought that this organization could give us the freedom to run, as we had never had this ability before in our lives. In my head, Free to Run was a place that I could go and be far away from everything I was running away from as a 14 year old girl in Afghanistan, those difficulties I was facing and all the things I was afraid of.

Free to Run helped me start my magical running journey, but, on the first day of being with Free to Run, my previous thoughts were changed. I was thinking that it would be Free to Run that gave us enough freedom to run but when I made the first steps in my life to start running, I just discovered that no, it is not about feeling the freedom to run but it is about running for freedom and it is about running to feel free for yourself.

My first run will never be forgotten, because everything started from it when I realized running was not only a simple sport but the meaning of life, it is to change, to go forward, to get strong, to go with your full heart, and to go for yourself.

I never run for glory, I run because every step teaches me how to live not just to be alive. I run because when I am running, I feel all my internal strength, free it up, get stronger and clear my mind. I run to race, as I know many people run away, away from their problems from all of their fate waiting for them, but I race to get stronger and face my fears not flee from them. I learned to run forward to my dreams, face it with all of the obstacles in my way, to run faster, stronger, and with a purpose that is to be better than myself because I believe I can.

Running taught me how to go forward, forward with my dreams. It taught me that it is my own race, so I have to do every single step to get stronger, to always keep going on because I am the only one who can help myself, the only one who is responsible for my finish line.

For a 14 year old girl to realize this, it was like magic. So, I am always really eager to talk about this change with all my family and friends, as talking about my experience could bring hope for freedom in other girls who had never thought of it before.

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