COMING UP: Zimbabwe Run at St. Joseph


A local foundation and its spirited directors are at it again, busily preparing for another Run for Zimbabwe Orphans and Fair -- the 11th such event, held every spring in Mountain View, to raise money for a Zimbabwean orphanage and to share the joys of that country's culture.

Ellen Clark is founder of the Run and co-director of the Sustainable Living Foundation, a nonprofit established to organize the event, among other philanthropic duties. Clark has tirelessly combined her passions for Zimbabwean culture and physical fitness education every year since 2000, and as a result the event has expanded dramatically over the past decade: Today it includes 11 races of varying lengths and a fair full of games, food, live music and art exhibitions, all celebrating the culture of Zimbabwe.

Time is short, however -- the upcoming Run is Sunday, March 28 at St. Joseph School in Mountain View -- and organizers are still hoping to bring in more registrants. The races, which include a $5 registration fee, begin at 1 p.m., and the fair, which is free to all, opens at noon.

People of all ages can participate in the races, which are 220 yards for preschoolers, a half-mile for kindergarteners and one mile for older children and adults. Last year, 400 participants ran in the races, which are named after different animals and accompanied by African animal mascots -- Clark's favorite part of the race.

"The mascots are all just running around, and I love seeing the looks of joy on the children's faces," she said.

This year's event features the usual games, live music and food, including sadza, Zimbabwe's cornmeal food staple. A new addition to this year's lineup is a booth from Batsiranai, an organization that helps support Zimbabwean mothers with disabled children by selling the mothers' handicrafts.

In addition, the event includes an art exhibit for children from preschool to high school, as well as a shoe drive, where locals can donate "gently worn" rubber-soled shoes by bringing them to the Run.

Since its inception the event has raised $250,000 for the Makumbi Children's Home, an orphanage in Zimbabwe that cares for 100 AIDS orphans. Last year it raised $33,000, and every year, Clark said, all participation fees, T-shirt sales and donations go directly to the orphanage. She said the main underwriter of the event is the Wakerly Family Foundation (the late Kate Wakerly was a co-founder of the Voice.

The inspiration for the event came after Clark's son volunteered as a teacher in Zimbabwe in 1997. Clark and her husband visited the country and were deeply moved by the poor living conditions and high rate of HIV infection, which leaves many children as orphans.

"I had to do something," Clark said of the original inspiration for the Run. "I don't know much, but I like running -- so I said, 'Let's have a cross-country race.'"

Clark also emphasizes that for local children, the benefit of learning about another culture is as important as the financial aid their participation gives to Zimbabwe.

"If the children leave the Run having learned just a little bit more about Zimbabwe, then we've done our job," she said.


What: The 11th annual Run for Zimbabwe Orphans and Fair

When: Sunday, March 28; the fair starts at noon and the first race is at 1 p.m.

Where: St. Joseph School, 1120 Miramonte Ave., Mountain View

Info: Call Ellen Clark at (650) 948-8029, e-mail or visit

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


3 people like this
Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 20, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Is Ellen Clark aware of the horrific violence being perpetrated against white people in Zimbabwe? It is odd that anyone would want to enable Mugabe's fantastically racist regime in any way.

3 people like this
Posted by Ellen Clark
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 24, 2010 at 10:05 am

The Sustainable Living Foundation (SLF) is a public non-profit charitable corporation with tax-exempt status. On the board of directors are: Ellen and Bill Clark; Teresa Clark and Dave Ruminski; Will and Kristin Clark; and Dee Gibson. There are two branches within SLF—Zimbabwe and Paraguay—and two projects. The projects are The Annual Run for Zimbabwe Orphans and Zimbabwean Fair (now in its 11th year) and “Red de Huerta” or Garden Network of Paraguay. Since the gentlemen’s concerns relate to Zimbabwe, comments in this letter are directed to the Zimbabwean branch of SLF. The Clarks are very aware of the political conditions within Zimbabwe having both visited and lived in Zimbabwe. Will Clark volunteered in the Shona Tribal Lands as a teacher of “school leavers” in 1997. In addition, the Clarks have numerous Zimbabwean friends (in the USA and Zimbabwe) and keep in close contact with the beneficiary of the run, Makumbi Children’s Home. SLF has absolutely no ties to Robert Mugabe or the government of Zimbabwe. No funds—raised as a result of the Annual Run for Zimbabwe Orphans—go to the government of Zimbabwe. As stated, the beneficiary of the Zimbabwe Run is Makumbi Children’s Home. All funds from the Zimbabwe Run go directly to Makumbi. Makumbi is a well-established Jesuit run orphanage that has been in existence since 1936 and serves 100 orphans. Lastly, SLF makes no pronouncements on what segment of Zimbabwean society has suffered the most under the regime of Mr. Robert Mugabe whom Parade Magazine lists as one of “The World’s Ten Worse Dictators”. People in all areas of Zimbabwean society have suffered tremendously and continue to suffer.

The goals of The Sustainable Living Foundation are to spread knowledge, cultural appreciation and philanthropy. With the generosity of the people of Mountain View, these goals are being realized each year at the Zimbabwe Run and Fair. We conclude with the Shona word for thank you. Mazvita.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Downtown Palo Alto gets new Vietnamese eatery
By Elena Kadvany | 10 comments | 5,908 views

More Stupid Plastic Food Things
By Laura Stec | 19 comments | 2,875 views

Couples: Write a Personal Ad . . . to Your Partner . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 3 comments | 1,734 views

Composting Works
By Sherry Listgarten | 2 comments | 1,669 views

On Metaphor and Mortality
By Aldis Petriceks | 0 comments | 908 views