There’s no doubt Eloise Wellings is currently at the top of her game. Having already qualified for the Rio Olympics in both the 5,000 and 10,000m, she recently ran sub-70 minutes over the half marathon distance in Japan, and will represent Australia at the World Half Marathon Championships in Wales next month. With three career-defining races ahead of her, you can be forgiven for thinking Wellings would have no time for anything else right now.
On the contrary, as a founding director of The Love Mercy Foundation – an organisation she conceived along side Ugandan Olympian Julius Achon – Eloise is simultaneously committed to realising change in Northern Uganda and helping to overcome poverty after decades of civil war.
Through the organisation’s Cents for Seeds agricultural program, which equips Ugandan women with seeds, a hand-held gardening tool and educational workshops, enabling them to grow, harvest, eat and sell more seeds, thereby providing for their families, Love Mercy has a goal to empower 20,000 women by 2020.
Sydney-based running group, Rachel’s Runners, is supporting Eloise, Achon and the Love Mercy Foundation by holding a virtual running event for 20 days, from 19 February until 10 March. Their goal is to, collectively, cover 20,000km in order to raise money for (and awareness of) the Love Mercy Foundation and its Cents for Seeds program.
“We love bringing people together via running and supporting great causes,” Rachel’s Runners told us. ‘”And the really great thing about the Cents for Seeds program is that it is fully sustainable. Not only do the women grow the crops for their own family use and to sell at market, but at the end of the season they give back the initial loan of 30kg of seeds. This then enables another woman and her family an entry into the program. Such a fantastic and innovative idea!”
It costs $30 to put one woman through the Cents for Seeds program, and in 2 of the 3 villages where Cents for Seeds operates, there are no other organisations or government support available. Cents for Seeds is reaching out to the poorest and most vulnerable women, in an area of Africa where no one else is currently.
‘The project is reducing my everyday expenses like food and is covering the costs of the rest, like my children’s medical bills,’ says Rose Alunga, who has benefited from the program.
Rachel’s Runners hopes that, by having fun running, walking, cycling, swimming, rowing and rolling as one community, participants will raise awareness and funds to contribute to this fantastic cause. The event costs $40, which includes a Love Mercy singlet, and you can sign up at the Rachel’s Runners website.