"Team BARKA," 3 Quebecois Long-Distance Runners Join NYC Marathon To Run For Water

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US-Based BARKA Foundation Joins Hands With Canadians To Raise Awareness And Funds For Community-Led Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Project In Burkina Faso, West Africa

When three Québécois long-distance runners run in the annual New York City Marathon in November, they will not only fulfill a life-long dream of participating in this challenging major marathon, they will also run for water. One of the largest events with almost 44,000 finishers in 2009, the marathon winds 42.195 km (26.219 mi) through all five boroughs of NYC.

Monique Laurion and husband-and-wife team Marcelle Belanger and Robert Bouchard, long-time friends and running partners have teamed up with two non-profits from the USA, The BARKA Foundation and All For Africa to put each of their steps in this marathon toward making clean water available to an impoverished village in one of the poorest countries on the planet, Burkina Faso.

"My sister Erika is a volunteer with The BARKA Foundation. She told me they were looking for a marathoner to race the NYC Marathon and help them raise funds for their clean water project in Burkina Faso. I jumped at the chance because I have been yearning to support Africa in some way and this was the perfect way for me to do it," said Ms. Laurion, one of Team BARKA's runners.

The BARKA Foundation is a UN-affiliated NGO based in Maine and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Its mission is to serve as a catalyst for the achievement of the UN's Millennium Development Goals in Burkina Faso. In particular, BARKA is pioneering a model for inter-cultural, grassroots sustainable development. BARKA Foundation works with numerous communities in the US to connect schools, women, faith-based organizations, politicians and artists with their counterparts in villages and cities in Burkina Faso.

"We are thrilled to join hands with the community of Quebec and seek to build long-term relations with schools, Rotary Clubs and local organizations in Canada. A marathon is the perfect metaphor because this type of bridge-building requires endurance, tenacity and vision," BARKA co-founders Ina & Esu Anahata said.

Team BARKA's initial fundraising goal was $15,000. After Canadians donated more than $10,000 in the first month of fundraising, the goal was raised to $45,000-- $1 for each of the 45,000 runners in the 2010 NYC Marathon. The $1 is a symbolic number because 64% of Burkinabe live on less than $1/day.

Join the Runners Virtually

The marathoners will have a computer chip in their running shoes which will allow their start and end times to be calculated. Those wishing to follow Team BARKA as they race the marathon can do so online in virtually real time. Visit Team BARKA's website: https://afamarathon.dojiggy.com/pledge/index.cfm?585F2208097E787C641601637B770461157A71147B060D7B7565734F535D400C710B71037304 to make a tax-deductible donation and to sign up to receive emails as Team BARKA passes timing mats placed throughout the course. 'Barka' is an African word of gratitude, blessing & reciprocity.

About Team BARKA
Monique Laurion: Family doctor for the past 25 years. She specializes in palliative care and mental health and does clinic and private consultations. She has worked in remote areas and was a military doctor for 3 years.

Robert Bouchard: Mediator and Certified Trainer of the International Center for Nonviolent Communication, a professional coach, lawyer and involved in team building and conflict resolution since 1977. He is an instructor in nonviolent communication and conflict management at Laval University and at the University of Sherbrooke, and president and co-founder of Conscientia Group Inc.

Marcelle Belanger: Mediator and trainer in conflict management and non-violent communication for Conscientia Group and for Laval University, co-founder of Conscientia Group Inc.

About The BARKA Foundation:
The BARKA Foundation is a UN-affiliated NGO established in January, 2006. Its mission is to serve as a catalyst for achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Burkina Faso. BARKA's methodology is community-led, collaborative, grassroots and combines indigenous and modern technologies to develop a set of best practices in areas of water accessibility, irrigation, sanitation, sustainable agriculture, women's empowerment, education, and healthcare. BARKA places its work within the context of co-creating a culture of peace. One concrete example is through building bridges between communities in North America and villages in Burkina by connecting schools, youth groups, women's associations, faith-based organizations, businesses, artists and civic leaders in order for our gifts to be shared with each other.


About All For Africa:
All for Africa, a 501(c)3 non_profit organization, takes a collaborative approach to poverty reduction by working with the private sector to foster projects that generate economic and social benefits in the communities in which they are located. Programs focus on agriculture, clean water, community health, education, energy, environmental impact, micro_financing and skills training/livelihood creation. All for Africa provides a forum for collaborative conversation and education amongst all stakeholders including private sector, NGOs and civic organizations through a coordinated program of events and information support through our web site, electronic newsletters and extended reach through our network of strategic partners in the private and public sector.


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