Why do we run?
to see a new view over the brow of the hill
to see inside ourselves, smell the wild air
know the trees and feel the space, the air holding us
for the joy at the end.
The people in Gaza have been running uphill for a long, long time
we need space
to collect ourselves
time runs as the people in Gaza strain for return
as a child I loved to make dens in the countryside with hay bales
or in the woods
as a child I loved to be a dog
as a child I loved to race my brothers
as a child I loved to read on my own
as a child I loved to wander free with friends
the children of Gaza have lost the right to wander
because we have to
because there is no choice
ideas will not be bound
2335 miles from Sheffield to Palestine
our thoughts cross in a second
we protest to protect children
to speak the truth, for freedom
to make a change
we run to support the people of Gaza
we run in this moment with the people of Palestine
action brings hope, hope creates change
we cheer for the runners
we cheer for freedom
we cheer til we’re hoarse
“It’s easy to be cynical about trying to change the world, but if I can take part, have fun and help promote and raise funds for such a good cause then it’s worth tiring myself out.”
Louise Haigh has very kindly agreed to open this year’s small park BIG RUN. She will also run the first half hour time slot – no mean feat for a super busy Member of Parliament. We asked her about her views on justice for Palestinians and what her thoughts are on the upcoming run – read what she said below.
What is the single most important thing that needs to be done to achieve justice in Palestine?
I was in Palestine in February this year and just a couple of weeks ago I secured a debate in Parliament on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. I don’t think anyone could say that there is one, single thing that will bring justice to the Palestinian people so in no particular order I think recognition, arms control and properly recognising trade with the illegal settlements as illegal are steps we can immediately take to set us on the road to justice but only a sovereign Palestinian state, I believe, will see justice delivered.
Why are you running?
Supporting the ambitions and life chances of young women and girls who are living in unimaginably tough circumstances is really important to me. We have so many freedoms and opportunities in this country compared to young people growing up in Palestine, and events like this can be a great way to help make life easier for those who don’t.
It’s easy to be cynical about trying to change the world but if I can take part, have fun and help promote and raise funds for such a good cause then it’s worth tiring myself out.
How did you enjoy the event last year and why?
Last year’s run took place right after the General Election – so by comparison it was fairly relaxing. The turnout and enthusiasm of the people there was really encouraging and I’m hoping the weather this summer can coax even more people out for the occasion.
How many laps will you do this time?
I can’t remember how many I did last year, it was only a couple of days after the most exhausting election campaign I’ve ever known so I walked around it pretty leisurely with Julie Pearn and chatted the whole way round. I’ll say four and hope I can bust expectations.
Who will run the fastest lap, you or Magid Magid?
I’ll do my best but I’d imagine it’ll be Magid – I’ve recently taken up boxing and football again so I’m built for strength rather than than speed!
As you will know the really big idea is Justice for Palestinians
The big idea for the small park BIG RUN is about community. How can we best link with the community in Gaza, how can we link with the communities across Sheffield; can we run for 24 hours together – keeping at least two people on the course at all times.
The effect of this for people in Gaza is beyond what we might expect.
Any caring contact has a dramatic impact on moral and their spirit and their resilience. So, for a single day, one 24 hour period we are holding hands with them and recalling what it is to be in Gaza.
Listed below are when no one is down to run. Can you help?
Either log back into eventbrite and set your running times or email us, let us know when you would like to run and we will set that up
We are sure you will have heard about the horrendous, ongoing tragedy in Gaza where to date 61 unarmed protesters have been killed and another 2,771 injured by the hugely disproportionate aggression of the Israeli army – 1,360 of those injuries were from live ammunition.
These events affect those very same people the small park BIG RUN aims to help. No-one will have been left untouched and unharmed physically or mentally by this atrocity. The trauma centre we are supporting will at least provide respite and solace to some of those affected.
As if what happened isn’t bad enough, the resource-starved Palestinian health service is struggling to cope.
Hopefully you will be joining us on June 16/17 to hold hands with and extend love, sympathy and solidarity to our brothers and sisters in Palestine. Last year’s live broadcast link up with the Gazan children’s centres we support was a hugely emotional affair. Following the current events, this link up will be even more poignant this year.
Cafe Des Amis, a popular Palestinian cafe on Chesterfield Road, just round the corner from the park have said they will donate 10% of all takings over the run weekend to the causes the run is highlighting.
Some of you who have been in the cafe, will have noticed that there is a key hanging on the wall. This is a copy of the key the owner, Lena, still holds; it is for the family home that had to be left during the Nakba, 70 years ago.
So, when you are hungry over the run weekend, get some scram from notre amis at Cafe des Amis
In early June 2017, the Diyar women’s football team from Bethlehem is coming to the UK – they will visit and play matches in Bristol, Bath, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and London on theirtour.
They visit Sheffield on the same weekend as the small park BIG RUN – June 10/11. We are very honoured that Diyar will be opening our run on Saturday at noon and participating in a fun penalty shootout competition on Sunday morning. From 1pm on Saturday they will participate in a tournament at UMIX (details below).
Diyar Bethlehem was founded by players at Bethlehem University in 2008. It is one of the West Bank’s leading teams and many of their players are in the Palestine national women’s team.
Honey Thaljieh is co-founder of Diyar and first captain of the Palestinian women’s football team. She explains:
“Football is more than a game. It’s about social inclusion, identity and pride for one’s country. It’s about putting Palestine on the world map.” Her advice to other women players is “believe in your talent and be determined—with support you can achieve”.
In 2014, two women’s football teams, Easton Cowgirls from Bristol and Republica Internationale from Leeds, toured the West Bank area of Palestine to play against Diyar and other women’s teams.
They saw what life was like in towns and villages under Israel’s military occupation. In particular they found out some of the issues facing women wanting to play football in Palestine.
On their return, they made a film Balls, Barriers and Bulldozers about their experience. It shows how joyful but also how challenging, thought-provoking and at times sad their experience was.
“I urge you to join in the small park BIG RUN event. Firstly, because it will be great fun but secondly because it is for a wonderful cause.
I’ve been to Palestine twice now. The differences between reading about Palestine and visiting it are stark – more so than any other country I’ve experienced.
The reality of the occupation to the Palestinian people is chilling. The wall frequently cuts through the centre of villages, separating families from each other, children from their schools and farmers from their land. It can take hours to make the convoluted trek to the nearest security barrier to queue up (often getting rejected) to then go about your daily business. On my last visit in January, it felt like Palestine has become an open prison and I can’t imagine what that must do to you psychologically.
I haven’t visited Gaza as MPs are not allowed to enter, therefore I don’t feel able to reliably comment on the rights and wrongs of the complex relationships between Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Israel. However, there is no doubt that the residents of Gaza are trying to survive in the midst of a massive humanitarian crisis.
I am therefore very grateful that women and children from Gaza will benefit from the kindness of people from South Yorkshire. There is no debate that everyone deserves the right to reach their potential and the causes being supported will help that to happen.”
Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Rotherham & member of the Labour Shadow Cabinet
While we have been very lucky to get water for the run sponsored by local co-op stores, and mostly we have easy access to tap water in our homes, we should not forget that water is a terrifyingly precious resource in Gaza.
Gaza has long suffered severe water problems with its aquifer contaminated by sewage, chemicals and seawater and the territory’s three desalination plants unable to meet demand. To drink, most citizens depend on imported, bottled water. And some travel many miles to fill cans.
The source of the problems are varied but centre on the blockade of Gaza by Israel and destruction of key infrastructure for the safe supply of water and treatment of sewage. Desalination plants are poorly maintained because of difficulties in obtaining spare parts. These factors exacerbate behaviours that will tend to deplete the aquifer that sits under the Gaza and forms the basis of its water supply.
As the aquifer drains, salty sea water seeps in and with it sewage and chemical pollution further degrading the supply.
Meanwhile in the West Bank, in the occupied territories, there are inequalities of water supply that reflect the aggressive approach taken by Israeli colonial settlers and the army that protects them, to dismantling Palestinian civil life.
Water use by colonial settlers is 4 times that of Palestinians in the occupied land reflects the relative poverty of Palestinian people.
Since 1967, Israel has prevented access to the Jordan River supply by Palestinians and supply of water to Palestinians by the Israeli water company, is subject to strict control.
Generally, settlements are built on high land, water is gathered and prevented from reaching into the lower reaches of hills and supplying Palestinian villages. Waste water from settlements is regularly pumped into an already depleted Palestinian supply.
So thank you to the Co-op for supplying our water; and, when we are drinking our water on the way round the park, let’s spare a thought for the difficulties Palestinians have in obtaining it.