People looking to have the most meaningful adventure in Africa, plan their visit in time for the annual Uganda Marathon, a 7-day exploration of rural Uganda. The next international racing event is scheduled to take place on May 2022, where participants also volunteer to support grass roots projects led by local civic organizations.
About the Uganda Marathon Races
Being the birthplace of distance running, the Uganda Marathon brings together about 5,000 participants, to run in the race of their choice: 10KM, 21 KM or 42 KM all working toward saving or improving the lives of the people in the outlying villages in Masaka. Each race is a challenge like no other, as the routes taken will have participants running up and down hills across East Africa’s breathtaking rolling terrains and sceneries.
While many describe the hills as brutal, giving up is definitely out of the question. Many children from the villages who receive support through the marathon’s projects, come out to cheer on and inspire the runners.
About the Grass Roots Projects of the Uganda Marathon
The week-long adventure provides marathon participants opportunities to connect with rural Africa and all its hospitable communities through their stay at the Athlete’s Village. As volunteers, marathon runners will commune with locals, eat local food and be part of the many projects being supported by the funds raised by the annual marathon.
Programs in which volunteers participate include teaching village locals to communicate in English, helping the people support their elderly by building a piggery, constructing a community playground or helping the young people develop a business or career plan.
One of the most awaited events during the 7-day stay is the Sports Day held at local schools and orphanages for disadvantaged children living in refugee camps.
Helping young Ugandans understand the concept of business or career plans is of great relevance since Masaka is a valuable commercial centre. It caters to businesses that manufacture beverages, processed meat and fish, baked goods, milled grains, footwear, glass and clay potteries, footwear and furniture in addition to the trade brought in by the coffee-growing areas surrounding the market town.
The Impact of the Uganda Marathon on the Lives of Ugandan Youths
Actually Uganda is touted as the food basket of East Africa as 68% of the growing population are engaged in jobs related to the agricultural sector. Only 20% of Ugandans are involved in the services sector while 7% have landed jobs and established careers in other industries like music, movies and gaming entertainment.
Nonetheless, the expansion and availability of high speed Internet connection has made it possible for young Ugandans to explore other career opportunities, including games development,
Many are hoping to follow the footsteps of Lual Mayen, an award-winning video game developer now based in Washington D.C. Mayen, a Sudanese by birth, actually grew up in one of Uganda’s refugee camps, where his family settled after fleeing the war-torn Sudan. The days he spent playing video games in the refugee camp instilled a desire for Mayen to learn about computers and programing so he could one day become a game developer.
Mayen’s dream came true and produced outcomes that exceeded his expectations. He received international recognition for his video game “Salaam,” which takes players to a challenging game of running while playing a character looking for a place of refuge.
Apparently, Mayen is among the underprivileged youths who found the support he needed from the many volunteers who participated in the annual Uganda Marathon. He must have met a trainer, who not only helped him improve his video gaming skills but helped him navigate in pursuing a career as a game developer as well.