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Charity run raises money for schools in Afghanistan

Initiative spearheaded by project manager of Lacombe-based A Better World

Get ready to run for an education!

On April 28, Lacombe will be hosting its Freedom Run to raise funds for A Better World and its 100 Classroom Project.

Azalea Lehndorff, A Better World’s project manager for Afghanistan, said that the event is sponsored by Co-Operators this year and past events have raised a total of $50,000.

It will take place at the Canadian University College Physical Education Center. Participants can take part in a 2km, 5km or 10km walk and run.

For Lehndorff, who spearheaded the 100 Classroom Project, seeing her idea realized was a very rewarding experience.

“I guess the most exciting thing for me was going to Afghanistan for the first time and getting a chance to meet the people,” said Lehndorff.

She added that it gave her a different perspective on Afghanistan, much of it contrary to the war-torn country that is often portrayed in the media.

Lehndorff joined A Better World in 2010 when she was at Canadian University College and got an idea for a project to build classrooms in Afghanistan.

She then discovered that A Better World was already working in Afghanistan and approached Eric Rajah with her idea who allowed her to take on the project of building 100 classrooms in Afghanistan with the help of the organization.

It was while reading a book entitled Three Cups of Tea that Lehndorff came up with the idea to build classrooms in Afghanistan.

The book, about a man who works to reduce poverty and promote education, gave Lehndorff the idea to do something similar.

Realizing that she could do something to tangibly help someone was an exciting experience, she added.

Inspiration for Lehndorff’s project came from her own personal experience as well.

She said that while growing up in the United States, her parents were not supportive of her getting an education.

It eventually came to the point where she and her sister had to leave their home at the age of just 13 in order to attend high school.

“I was very passionate about giving that opportunity to other people,” said Lehndorff.

“That’s why it’s kind of sparked my interest and I wanted to do something.”

To date, the 100 Classroom Project has raised about $50,000 to its cause, said Lehndorff. She added that, at the time, that’s all that was thought would be needed.

However, now the project looks like it will take at least $1 million to complete. However, Lehndorff also said that the project has resulted in several classrooms being built and is nearing the halfway mark.

“So far we’ve built four schools,” she said.

“We’re hoping to build two more schools this year - two girls’ high schools. That will bring us to 48 classrooms.”

Girls in particular have difficulty obtaining an education in Afghanistan. Part of this is because women rarely work outside the home and as such many families have a ‘what is the point’ kind of mindset to female education.

Fortunately, this is changing. Lehndorff said that the request for the last two schools came from rural communities, who traditionally have even more reason to keep their daughters at home because farmers need more bodies for labour in the house and around the farm.

Freedom Run will take place on April 28 beginning at 10 a.m.

Two iPad minis are to be given away as top prizes for the two highest fundraisers for the event.

Lehndorff said that participants are encouraged to register early online.

Pledge sheets are also available and all donations are tax deductible.

A link to the registration site can be found at or at

Volunteers are also needed for the event and those interested can also register online.