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Cameroon women's co-op produces 3,000 finisher medals, injects $10,000 in local economy
Ottawa, May 4, 2010 – There's no better combination than having fun while helping others. That's what motivated Ottawa Race Weekend organizers when they teamed with International Children's Awareness Canada (ICA) to create a special handmade medal to give participants who finish the 2010 Family 2K race on Saturday, May 29.
This is no ordinary medal. Constructed of agejiga seeds, coconut shells and bamboo shoots, it was designed by Cameroonian artisan Bantu Freeman and produced by a group of women in the Lebialem Valley, an isolated region of the country located in West Africa.
"The commitment of Ottawa Race Weekend's organizers to have the Family 2K race medals produced in this region has been the impetus for the creation of a working co-op in the region," explained Edward Smith, President, ICA Canada. "By providing women with this opportunity, it will have an immediate and positive impact on the lives of families in the region. Funds earned will provide food, medical care, school fees, clothing and other necessities of life."
There are about 10,000 people in seven villages in Cameroon's Lebialem Valley. This population is isolated geographically and marginalized as a result of limited means to earn a livelihood. Turning out 3,000 medals, the women in the co-op have generated $10,000 into their local economy.
"We are very pleased with the link that Ottawa Race Weekend has made with the people of the Lebialem Valley," said Anu'a-Gheyle Solomon Azoh-Mbi, Cameroon High Commissioner. "It gives them a chance to provide for their families while creating something that can be worn and remembered at this year's Ottawa Race Weekend."
"Half of the 3,000 spots in the Family 2K race are already sold," said Jim Robinson, General Manager, Run Ottawa. "The more people who register, the more support we can provide the Women's Jewelry Project. We're already considering expanding it next year if people embrace this worthwhile cause."
High resolution photos of the medals are available.
The Ottawa Race Weekend, Canada's premier running event, combines competition, participation and fundraising to make a distinctive contribution to the health of the community. The 2009 Ottawa Race Weekend welcomed more than 36,694 participants in seven races, including the Ottawa Marathon. Run Ottawa, the organization behind the Ottawa Race Weekend, is run by a volunteer Board of Directors.
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