Sattya’s marathon dream comes true

“It’s been my dream to run a marathon since I was little and saw one on a TV, but I never thought it would happen,” says Sattya, now a friendly and confident young man of 19, in his excellent English. “When I was 4 my family were robbed and lost everything. Between the ages of 5 and 8 I had to scavenge through the rubbish on the old Steung Meanchey garbage dump because we had no money. It was very terrible. But then me and my sister were given the chance to study at CCF.”

His story is echoed by those of the 5 other CCF students who will be running the Angkor Wat half marathon on December 4th. All come from poor families who couldn’t afford to send them to school, and faced a future of working as children, never having meaningful jobs or fulfilling their potential. Instead, CCF gave them a chance at an education and they are all now in exciting careers or studying at university.

What’s more, they want to give back by taking on the challenge of running 21km in Cambodia’s scorching heat and raising money. “I really want to raise funds because I still don’t have money myself, so this is my way of helping the community I came from and making sure poor kids like me have a future,” says Sattya.

CCF is widely recognised as one of the world’s best education NGOs and has won numerous accolades, including a 100% score for financial responsibility and transparency by Charity Navigator. And because of generous support from Starbucks, who are paying for the team’s registration, transport, food, and even running shoes, donors can know that every cent, penny or riel donated will go directly to CCF and educating impoverished young children.

Sattya’s dream of running took a long time to come true. “My Dad didn’t want me to run [when I was at school] because he wanted me to study hard so I wouldn’t have to live in the poverty he did. But now I am 19 and study engineering at a good university. When I heard there would be a CCF team running the half marathon I decided I had to do it even though it would mean hard work. On most days, I wake up at 5 to run, then go to class from 7 until 5, then do research in the evening. But I love running with the team and pushing myself. When I ran 19km without stopping I was so happy.”

He’s not the only team member to be happy. Most had never even run 5 kilometres before they began training, and had certainly never taken part in a half marathon. Now, with 10 days to go, they are able to run 19 kilometre without stopping and are very excited about the idea of running around the temples of Angkor Wat. Despite having to get up early to run before the Cambodian heat becomes unbearable, and despite the downpours of rainy season, they have stuck to the training programme and all feel sure they can complete the course.

“They’ve worked so hard in training, it’s been a joy watching their progress,” says Jaime Gill, a CCF employee who has coached the team for the last 11 weeks. “At the start most of them really struggled, they just weren’t used to running in the extreme heat. I expected half of them to give up during training, but they persevered and now they practically glide along, even when we’re running 15 kilometres. The best thing has been how they support and encourage each other, the faster ones looping back to rejoin slower runners. They’re a true team and I can’t wait to run with them on the big day.”

“I really want to thank Starbucks,” Sattya adds. “They paid for me to live my dream, even got me running shoes so I wouldn’t injure myself. I am so excited about running in Siem Reap, and very grateful that people are sponsoring us and making donations for other kids.”

Please support Sattya and the team by sponsoring them if you are able, or spread the word of their fundraising efforts to all your friends.

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