Recently, The Hall Steps Foundation reached a continual investment of over $100,000 in microloans through Kiva for people living in extreme poverty, which they use to start a business and work their way out of poverty. We’ve specifically targeted loans to women in East Africa because they are more likely to use her profits to lift up those around them. For every $1 a woman earns, she invests 80 cents back into her community, whether through her own education or her family’s well being.
We have also been identifying ways to sustainably support the 4-5 million orphaned children in Ethiopia – the home country of Ryan and Sara Hall’s adopted daughters. We have partnered with a few organizations doing exceptional work in this area – Shamida Orphanage, Testimony Feeding Center, and Kingdom Vision International. Through these organizations we have helped their efforts to give education to extremely poor children as well as adequate nutrition and housing. Additionally, we have supported local adoption and foster care starting in Ethiopia.
There is still a lot of work to be done, as 60,000 children live on the streets of the capital city alone (Addis Ababa), and, currently, only 1-in-3 girls goes to school in Ethiopia. We are excited, through your help, to continue to find sustainable ways to bring justice and opportunity to vulnerable women and children in Ethiopia!
Steps has donated $25,000, which was matched to double its impact, to the World Vision WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) program to help fight the drought in Ethiopia.
Water shortages, food insecurity, and malnutrition in many parts of Ethiopia are putting millions of lives at risk. Failed rains and the arrival of one of the worst El Niños on record are causing life-threatening drought conditions. The Ethiopian government has declared 10.2 million people in need of emergency assistance and 5.8 million people in need of clean drinking water and basic sanitation. Even before the drought, many children were forced to walk hours to get water for their families. These children are forced to miss school to take these trips, and the water is often from unsafe sources, which can have consequences as dire as the lack of water itself.
Steps’ partnership with World Vision will help them establish and maintain WASH facilities. These facilities promote healthy hygiene and sanitation practices as well as improve water access to clean water through new wells and spring catchment systems. These facilities are being targeted in the highest priority areas with a long term goal of building drought resilience in the communities. Between 2010 and 2015, the WASH program improved clean water access to over 900,000 Ethiopians.
Please pray for those affected by this ongoing drought and consider helping support the World Vision WASH program in their work.
The Steps Foundation is pleased to announce that we have funded an additional $50,000 for microloans in East Africa through Kiva. In places like East Africa, where people are often living on less than $1/day, having access to low cost credit can mean the difference between self-sufficiency and a continuing cycle of poverty. Microloans through Kiva are just what many people need to kick start a business or cover an otherwise crippling expense. These loans are especially helpful for women who can be empowered to provide for their families.
Thank you to everyone who has supported these loans! They are truly making a difference in the lives of people who just need a hand up.
One of Ryan’s passions is the science of making really good coffee. In this video, he describes selecting the beans, the proper measurements of water and grounds, and technique to making quality coffee at home. And, in the end, he blends it with butter, his and Sara’s new pre-run addiction!
After visiting Pout, Senegal where Sara’s brother-in-law, Sidiya, is from, and in the country where her sister does malaria research, Sara and Ryan worked with them to redo the maternity ward at a local health clinic that was in a very scary state. In a country where maternal mortality is 1 in every 54 mothers, and infant mortality is 54%, the need was very clear. Sara is excited to see it when she travels to Senegal this July!
The maternity ward before (left) and after (right).
We are excited to have made our next round of grants! While we (Ryan and Sara) were in East Africa last summer, one of the biggest areas of need we saw was giving people a head start to work and get themselves out of poverty. We saw a lot of people that had a desire to work, there is just a lack of opportunity often and start-up funds to begin a business. We love what Kiva is doing all over the world, partnering with local NGOs to provide loans for those in need to star their own businesses. What is amazing is that there is a 98.97% repayment rate, and you can then reinvest the funds that are repaid into another person to help give their business a start! Steps has invested $50,000 in microlending for East Africa, and made a $5,000 donation to Kiva to keep loans going.
We have funded another clean water project in Mozambique, donating $10,000 to Iris Ministries! It’s amazing to think that this amount can change the lives in an entire community, extending the life expectancy, preventing illness, allowing young children to be able to attend school, and many other ramifications.
We recently received these photos from the hospital in Pemba, Mozambique! The Steps Foundation contributed $50,000 towards this project in 2012. It is very exciting to see progress being made and know that the hospital is that much closer to bringing better health to many in the Pemba area!
As soon as Ryan and Sara set foot on Kenyan soil they headed out to the Kitale region of the Rift Valley to see firsthand the hospital supported by many of you! They were greeted by over 200 villagers gathered singing songs of welcome and thanks to them for bringing the hospital to their village. Ryan and Sara greeted the villagers and made sure to tell them that it was not just the Halls, but there was a group of runners that cared enough about their health to donate and raise funds for this hospital! They all cheered and were very thankful.
Ryan and Sara found it very encouraging to talk with the 4 full-time nurses and doctors working there (whom are also funded by Steps!) and hear their reports of how the hospital is treating people daily for ailments such as malaria, malnutrition, typhoid, HIV/AIDS, and monitoring infant health.
We hope your 2013 is off to a great start and on track with your new year’s goals!
We are training hard and preparing for our Spring races: Boston Marathon for Ryan and the spring track season for Sara. If you haven’t seen Sara’s blog about running XC Nationals off of injury, check it out! http://ryanandsarahall.com/blog/
We wanted to let you guys know that this year we have decided to partner our Steps racing teams with Team World Vision, an organization that we love and have supported since 2008. We have gotten to see first hand Wold Vision’s work while in Zambia, where we saw water projects and health clinics that were funded by runners. Team World Vision raises money for clean water in Africa- something we are very passionate about, and have funded World Vision’s work through Steps. Se want to encourage all of you who are looking for a team to join to check out their website, www.teamworldvision.org and select “Join the Team”.
Of course you can always run any race, any place for Steps or Team World Vision. We hope you will continue to commit your running to bringing better health to those in need!
I recently competed at the US Olympic Trials in the 3,000 Steeplechase and fell one lap short of my dream of making the Olympic team. Though it never ceases to be painful when I fall short of attaining a goal, I firmly believe after years in this sport that the journey is what matters more than the final outcome. I want to share some of my journey with you, with hopes that when you too experience the death of a dream, you can perhaps identify with what I have been through.
When I first began competing at the age of 13, winning came easy. In fact, I started competing with the boys because I was winning girls races by over 2 minutes, and even still, usually won or placed 2nd against the boys. Though this fueled my love for running and competing, it also set me up with an “anything less than winning is not acceptable” mentality. As I’ve grown up, I’ve realized how much I was drawing my identity from how successful I was as a runner. If I was competing well, in my eyes I was a success, but if I competed poorly, I saw myself as a failure. Fortunately God used some rough patches in my career to show me that my identity is not based in what I do, but in who He created me to be and who He says that I am. Now I make sure to spend time hearing from God and from others on how God sees me, the plans He has created me for, and shape my identity from that.
Once your identity is secure, than you are free to take risks and go after dreams, because you no longer fear failure. There have been times in my career where I was more nervous I’d fail than excited to succeed- and this was because the failures were shaking my identity. But now that my identity is secure, I rarely ever get that feeling of nervous dread before races, I am excited and peaceful going in, more focused on how much I love to compete and run all-out than worried it might not go well. That is how this whole year has been leading up to the Olympic Trials. Even when some of my steeples early on were sub-par performances, rather than letting that rattle my confidence and let fear enter in, I shifted my focus to what my goal was and how excited I was to be running towards it. The day of the Olympic Trials I experienced so much more peace than in other years, and I am so thankful for God’s grace in growing me in this area.
I have also learned that, unfortunately, as much as we would like them to be, our bodies are not machines and do not always cooperate as we would like them to. After 15 years of competitively racing, I’ve become quite aware of this, and though it can be frustrating at times, I have learned that the number one thing you can focus on is giving your best and walking away from the race with no regrets. When you’ve given your all, you have to trust that even if your best wasn’t good enough, that God will use it to “work all things together for your good” (Romans 8:28).
So what happens when you don’t accomplish your goal? Well, I believe it’s totally normal to get really bummed out, as I did after the Trials. I was devastated and let myself mourn the death of the dream. I had really believed it was going to happen and that Ryan and I were going to walk hand-in-hand into the Opening Ceremonies. But amidst the pain, I intentionally kept my focus looking outward and forward rather than backwards and inwards. Rather than getting really introspective and analyzing what went wrong, why didn’t I have that last gear, what could I have done differently, how did this happen and being tormented by these thoughts, I instead got together with my friends and family and let them embrace me with their unconditional love. I hung out with Jesus and let him encourage me. I picked a new goal and kept moving forward. Then, after some of the frustration and disappointment had worn off, it was a good time to meet with the coach and analyze the race and what we could do to improve both the race and preparation next time. And after a few days, I felt a lot more like myself, because I realized that I don’t just do this solely for the end result, but I do this because I love it and feel called to it, and that doesn’t change when you don’t meet your goal. When you are enjoying the process and letting it shape you as a person along the way you realize the value of the journey.
Another thing I’ve learned is to keep your head up and keep looking for signs of God’s redemptive work. I have already seen little glimpses of how God has used my Olympic Trials race to teach me things, and am constantly looking for what He is up to. It’s always easier to see these things in hindsight and see how His hand has fit all the pieces together perfectly, though at the time we can’t see the full picture.
So what’s next? My attention has now shifted to preparing for some fast races in Europe and supporting Ryan in his final buildup to the Olympic marathon. I am excited to experience the Olympics with him as we usually approach things- as a team, together, even though we won’t be official teammates on Team USA. It will be the culmination of a big season of change for us, where we’ve really had to rely on each other and God for support, so I look forward to seeing it all come together on the streets of London.
We will keep you updated! Thank you so much for the prayers and support, we really appreciate them as we continue this journey!
Early Monday evening, Sara Hall ran through the wet conditions at Hayward Field at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Track and Field trials to secure her spot in the final on Friday. Running a time of 9:44.55, she placed second in heat 2 to clinch an automatic birth for the final on Friday. Way to go Sara!!!
We are excited to announce the contribution of $56,000 to IRIS Ministries in Mozambique. Thanks to all of you for contributing and making the funding of a water well and the construction and completion of the new medical clinic at the Pemba base in Mozambique possible!
Many villages across the world do not have a clean water supply, and people are sick and dying as a result. When people are thirsty and starving, the best thing we can do is offer a cold drink of water. The IRIS well-drilling program is moving ahead rapidly making a tremendous difference in the quality of life of many villages. IRIS is one of the few organizations that has the equipment and government permission to drill wells throughout Mozambique. Nearly a billion people have no access to clean water. When they drink dirty water it makes them sick. When a well is drilled and installed, children return to school, businesses begin, and the men begin to work again from not being sick. Water brings health to the food supply chain. This breaks the poverty cycle.
Nearly 1 billion people don’t have safe water to drink.
A child dies every 15 seconds from a lack of clean water.
115 people die every hour from diseases linked to poor sanitation, poor hygiene and contaminated water.
1 in 5 children who die before age 5 worldwide, die of a water related disease.
Children often walk miles every day to collect dirty water to drink.
Water related illness kills more people each year than wars and conflict.
In Pemba, there is a free health clinic that offers medical attention averaging 50 patients a day with a limited small staff. In three months, 3300 patients have been seen with 33% of them children under five. Babies and mothers are assessed twice a month and given powdered milk formula. The clinic covers basic medical attention mainly focusing on public health issues ranging from nutrition and hygiene, to infant care and abstinence. Medications are distributed as needed. As IRIS has seen growth, the need for a larger facility has grown and the groundwork of the new medical clinic in Pemba has begun. Monday through Friday, the clinic strives to meet the needs of the local community with free services. In developing countries, 80% of medical illnesses are related to water and sanitation issues. We see a huge opportunity to help IRIS meet their goals and provide a safe medical environment that impacts many in the region and educates for a better future.
While the cost is high to build a new clinic, it far outweighs its reach into the future and the impact on the local community. The Hall Foundation is committed and excited to help fund these two ongoing projects in Mozambique!
Despite the intense New England heat at the Boston Marathon, the Steps
team prevailed and in the process took great “steps” towards bettering
the health of those in need domestically and abroad. Through the
funds raised, Steps was able to give back to the area that has
provided Ryan and Steps runners with such an incredible race
experience year after year and write a grant to Boys and Girls Club of
South Boston for $5,000.00. The community served by the South Boston Club continues
to confront multiple challenges, including poverty, inadequate
education, unemployment, crime and high levels of substance abuse and
addiction. For the growing number of high-risk youth who live in the
area, the South Boston Club is a major resource.The Boston Team also helped
raise $33,000.00 to complete Steps’ hospital in the Rift Valley of Kenya!
Ryan and Sara were thrilled to get to know the community in their new
mountain home of Flagstaff, Arizona! More than 300 people in the
small mountain town showed up for the dinner and raffle, including
many runners from the title sponsor Team Run Flagstaff. As a result
of the night, funds were raised for $2,500 grant to Girls on the Run
Northern Arizona and to build a well in Mozambique through Iris
Ministries! Way to go Flagstaff!
Girls on the Run Northern Arizona embodies Steps’ vision for domestic
running-mentoring programs that empower youth to a life path of health
and hope. We are excited about their plans to expand to local
reservation areas where there is great need.
Its been 13 days since the Olympic Trials and I have only run 3 miles since the very painful finish of the marathon. Those 3 miles were run with a group of runners in Santa Rosa in conjunction with a very successful Steps Foundation Fundraiser. I have no more planned runs until I run a couple of easy miles with the kids who will be at the ING Miami Marathon on Sunday. They will have to take it easy on me as I am sure my form will be poor by that point. My plan is to take 3 weeks completely off before beginning my preparations for the Olympic Marathon, which will take place on August 12th.
Reflecting back on the trials it was a very different marathon than any of my previous marathons. Never had a felt so good in the final few days leading up to the race. I was really pleased with how easy the first few miles felt. In comparison to the Chicago Marathon, my effort level felt very easy for the opening miles and I was optimistic that I could maintain that opening pace throughout the race.
As in any marathon there were obstacles that came up along the way and things got increasingly hard as the race unfolded. By the time Meb, Abdi and I shot free with a lap to go we were all hurting. I hadn’t done a good job of finishing my bottles along the way as a result of some stomach issues I was having and so the dehydration and lack of calories was beginning to take its toll on me. I have never felt like I did in the last three miles of the trials. My energy was extremely low and I felt like I was beginning to have an out of body experience. I was starting to get concerned that I may pass out. I was glad I had a lot of people praying for me because it was these prayers and the thought of walking into the opening ceremonies at the London Olympics with Sara that got me to the finish line.
Looking forward, I have never felt so optimistic about a marathon as I do feel about the Olympic Marathon. I have a strong since of destiny about this race. I believe God has been preparing me until now for these next 7 months of training and for the race that will unfold on August 12th. I am not sure exactly what the results will be but I know I will walk away from the games and this experience forever changed.