The 18th annual Run For Zimbabwe will be hosted at St. Joseph school, 1120 Miramonte Ave. in Mountain View, on Sunday, Mar. 26, from noon to 4 p.m.
The event aims to teach the local community about Zimbabwean culture and to raise funds for the Makumbi Children's Home, an orphanage.
Last year's run raised $35,000, said Ellen Clark, president of the Sustainable Living Foundation, and the organization's goal is to match last year's total, which will go toward a tutoring program.
The Wakerly family pays for the event's expenses, ranging from the paper printed to the swag distributed, Clark said. All proceeds will go entirely to the orphanage.
This is the first year the event is raising money for a program rather than a capital project. Past years' projects have involved raising funds to fix the orphanage's plumbing issues and termite problem.
Clark said this year's goal to fund a tutoring program will have a large impact on the 100 children in the Makumbi orphanage.
"Many of (the kids in the orphanage) are really behind in their learning. Many of their parents have died of AIDS and many of them haven't even been schooled," Clark said.
Twelve cultural booths will be set up to teach children about the different aspects of Zimbabwean culture, including the geography of the region and basket-balancing. Two local bands that play Zimbabwean music are set to perform. Sadza, a band from Santa Cruz County will play from noon to 2 p.m., and the Chinyakare Ensemble from Oakland will play for the final two hours of the event.
The charity event includes 13 cross country races for age groups from preschool to teens and adults.
Preschool runners will run 220 yards, kindergarteners will run a half-mile and all other age groups will run a 1-mile course. There is a suggested donation of $5 per runner.
Other events at the fair include an art contest and exhibition, a shoe drive and face painting.
Clark said she was inspired to host the Run For Zimbabwe event in 2000 after her son volunteered in Zimbabwe.
The event is helped run by a cohort of high school volunteers. Tino Tugwete, a junior at Los Altos High School and a native Zimbabwean, said her recent visit to her home country over the holiday break reminded her how much she loves her heritage and its culture.
"It's not just about this foreign place with AIDS and death and poverty, it's really a whole culture. It's really that this country that has a whole life. And to support children who live there is amazing," Tugwete said.
Tugwete met Clark when Clark spoke at her school last year. The two instantly clicked, and Tugwete said she knew she wanted to help with the charity event.
"I really like that Ellen makes it a point of doing philanthropy ... and the good parts of the (Zimbabwean culture). The joy of it. You want to support something when you know people are going to really appreciate it," she said.
"Ellen has lots of energy and she's very passionate about Zimbabwe and I was excited because out here nobody really talks about Zimbabwe," Tugwete said.
Both Clark and Tugwete said they want the event to focus on the culture of Zimbabwe rather than the hardships its citizens face.
"It's okay to recognize the sadness, and there is sadness ... but at the same it's the joy of Africa ... the people of Zimbabwe have a lot of joy in their lives and we want children to experience that," Clark said.
More information is at zimbabweparaguay.net.