Dead to Red Race: Why We Are Running


Four months ago, I moved from Germany to Jordan to support the work of our emergency team for Syrian refugees. During these four months I have talked to a lot of refugees about their fleeing Syria, their experiences, their hopes and their fears. Throughout this time I have tried to give them a voice and a face and to make a small contribution so that, despite all of their losses, they would also gain something: attention to their suffering, which the world seems to have forgotten.

With six months until the third anniversary of this crisis, we have to draw a dismal balance. More than 9 million people have fled their homes and remain displaced within Syria or to neighbouring countries, the UN have stopped updating the death toll and the response to the largest humanitarian crisis of our time is still drastically underfunded.

Nevertheless, giving up can and must not be an option. Quite the contrary; we must shout louder! We must come up with something new, something better, so that pleas of those for whom this war remains a bitter reality day in and day out do not become drowned out.

Therefore, on the third anniversary of the crisis, I will run from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea in Jordan. Together with colleagues from Jordan, Lebanon, Kenya and Syrian refugees, who volunteer in our urban centres, we will go the distance so that this silent, unseen catastrophe does not continue to be forgotten. Our team of 10 will run the 17th Annual “Dead to Red” Race on March 13 for millions of Syrians, who are desperately in need of humanitarian aid.

When we run from 415 metres below sea level through the Arabian Desert to the Gulf of Aqaba, we will be running for people whose constant companions are their memories of the war, their fear for the ones who are still at home and their grief for lost family members. We will run for people whose belongings lie under bombed, destroyed houses covered with rubbish and dirt. We will run for children who had to witness their fathers’ deaths and who have now forgotten how to speak. We will run for mothers whose children were hit by bullets and can no longer walk by themselves. We will run for fathers who want to end their lives because they have lost everything and cannot take care of their families anymore. We will run for young Syrians whose lives are on hold indefinitely while they live as refugees. We will run for students who can no longer study, for lawyers who are unable to cite paragraphs and for teachers who can no longer fill blackboards with lessons.

With every new blister we will remember little girls like Maraa, who does not laugh anymore, and who is a part of an entire generation of “lost” children who cannot go to school anymore.

Our colleagues, families and friends shook their heads in disbelief when they heard of our idea. Twenty-four hours without sleeping, running through sand and darkness through the desert – this is crazy! Indeed, it is. But it is not any crazier than the fact that this conflict has become something commonplace for the rest of the world.

If it meant that the world would take a closer look at Syria, that the booming speeches of politicians and the thundering of the tanks would cease to drown out the desperate cries of millions of people, we would gladly go the distance all the way from Alaska to Australia.

by Johanna Mitscherlich in Jordan

Join us!

While you may not be in Jordan in March, there are other ways you can support the team and CARE’s work: