How far will you run when disaster strikes?
“The best time to relate to the next disaster is now”, says Zhang Tingjun, Executive Director of Singapore’s leading independent disaster relief agency Mercy Relief.
As they commemorate the two-year anniversary of their role in disaster management after the devastating earthquakes that struck Nepal in 2015, Mercy Relief continues to advocate the importance of an informed awareness in global catastrophes, from the safe haven that we fortunately inhabit: Singapore.
Zhang realised that while a lot of people wanted to help with relief efforts, many of them did not know how, which eventually inspired the launch of Singapore’s first humanitarian run in an attempt to raise awareness in the grey areas of disaster relief.
Now in its third year, the Ground Zero Run for Humanity is set in conjunction with World Humanitarian Day. As its name suggests, this run celebrates the impregnable human spirit as people stand in solidarity with survivors who have inspired humanitarian work around the world.
While the Mercy Relief team believes that it is easy to picture the aftermath of a disaster — collateral damage of homes, lives, families and resources — they hope to cultivate a different perspective in response to crisis. They envision people working in tandem to protect victims of tragedy and a unity forged by effort and commitment to fight for a common cause.
As such, the Ground Zero Run for Humanity is organised to simulate the aftermath of a disaster, where carrying food packs weighing 5-7kg during the race is a symbolic gesture of a survivor’s experience of obtaining urgent supplies through harsh terrains and remote areas in the event of a disaster.
The race will consist of three meaningful race categories, each representative of the needs required in response towards the aftermath of a disaster — speed and urgency during a crisis in the time-bound 10 kilometres “Race Against Time”; resilience and strength in the food pack carrying 5 kilometres “Relief Aid Challenge”; and even a 1 kilometre “Dash for Humanity” meant for children.
The title sponsor for their event is The Hour Glass, Asia’s leading retail group of luxury watch brands. Michael Tay, Co-Group Managing Director of The Hour Glass Ltd. reveals: “This partnership is one of our commitments to supporting social causes in our local communities, and this is a recognition of Mercy Relief’s good work on the ground. It is also our little way of giving back to the countries that have geographically sheltered Singapore from disaster and tragedies, and the fact that we should start turning our attention to the survivors of the disaster instead."
Besides having a title sponsor for the humanitarian run this year, there is whole range of partnerships and efforts in place. Whether it is the medals that are made from volcanic ash from the Philippines, the food pantry set up by Food Bank, or even the recycled soaps by Sealed Air, Mercy Relief’s holistic approach to disaster management has definitely shown through in the organisation of the Ground Zero Run for Humanity.
Zhang Tingjun says: “[The Race is] not meant to be like the others, because it is not primarily driven by a huge management team and attractive merchandise, but it is more about the people and the community coming together to raise awareness as a team”.
If life was just another marathon, Mercy Relief wants to ensure that you’re running a good race.
The Ground Zero Run for Humanity run will be held on 13 August 2017, and registrations will be open until 29 July 2017. Individuals can sign up online via www.groundzerorun.com for one of the three race categories. To find out more about Mercy Relief, go to www.mercyrelief.org
You can also read our exclusive interview with Zhang Tingjun from Mercy Relief here.