Tomorrow activists from the Treatment Action Campaign and SECTION27 will run the Soweto Marathon wearing their distinctive HIV positive vests, singing, and handing out condoms on route. The Soweto Marathon marks the start of a month long fundraising drive, which aims to raise much needed funds to continue the critical work of the TAC. Back in 2012 the TAC formed a famous ‘bus’ in the Soweto Marathon made up of over 100 people. This helped a group of runners living with HIV to sing and run to the finish line of their first ever marathon. A victory on many levels!
Below we hear from Sharon Ekambaram, going for number 3 in the Soweto Marathon. A TAC “veteran” she is aiming to raise R10 000 for the TAC in her run. Go Sharon! As well as John Nonyane Monyamathe who has been running since 2007 and has Comrades Ultra-Marathon, Two Oceans Ulta-Marathon and Soweto Marathon medals in his cabinet. John will be setting the pace in the 21km race and is determined to raise R10 000 for the TAC.
Q: Why do you run?
A: I live a very stressful life and have had a serious battle with depression, following a traumatic experience of the death of two of my children at birth before I had Ciaran who is now 17 years old and Aidan who is 11 years old. Running has helped me to recover from the destruction of depression and running has helped me turn my traumatic experience into a source of strength.
Q: Why do you specifically want to run for TAC?
A: Since its inception, I have been part of the TAC. It is one of the few movements in the country that is led by the people directly affected by poverty. It has demonstrated the power that oppressed people have if we organise ourselves and empower ourselves with knowledge and information.
Q: If you had to motivate other runners to run for TAC in 3 sentences, what would you say?
A: TAC is an organisation that represents the true spirit of humanity. Running for the TAC means that you give a damn about the inequalities in the world and that you want to make a difference. Running for TAC means that you are taking a stand in the struggle for human dignity and in solidarity with a formidable movement of people living with HIV and engaged in daily struggles to eradicate poverty.
Q: What does it mean for you to run?
A: It means that I must be disciplined and organized. And this forces me to prioritise and plan every day.
Q: If you could run with one person even if they are not runners who would it be and why?
A: I would love to run with Arundhati Roy. She is an amazing storyteller and has such an incredible mind and she is beautiful and graceful. All ingredients to keep you occupied as you plod through kilometer after kilometer and need to be distracted from the reality of the pain and the distance.
Q: Why do you run?
A: I run because it is good for my health and I live with a disease that requires of me to be healthy.
Q: Why are you specifically running for TAC?
A: It is to show my support in the campaign against HIV and to support those living with HIV.
Q: If you had to motivate other runners to run for TAC what would you say to them?
A: Running assists you on so many levels, especially in people with depression.
Q: If you could run with one person even if that person is not a runner, who would it be and why?
A: I would run with a person living with HIV. I would tell that person not to be shy of taking their treatment and that they must have courage to speak out.
It’s not too late to donate — sponsor the runners online at www.tac.org.za/donate
Follow all the action tomorrow on #SaveTAC and @TAC and @SECTION27news