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Father-daughter duo running London Marathon to support girls in India

Michael and Annie Messenger are raising funds for Rise Up Daughters of India, a program focusing on keeping girls in India in school

Everyone who stands on the start line of a marathon has their own reasons for being there but for Michael and Annie Messenger, their purpose goes far beyond just getting to the finish line. On Sunday, Oct. 3, the father-daughter duo from Oakville, Ont. will be running the London Marathon in support of World Vision’s Rise Up Daughters of India program.

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The goal of the program is to help girls in India stay in school by providing safe, clean toilets at their schools. While this may sound insignificant, Michael says that 47 per cent of schools in the country don’t have a separate washroom for girls, and this is a major reason why girls miss school or drop out entirely. Having no education traps girls in a cycle of poverty, which has far-reaching effects on their communities and their country as a whole. For example, when educated girls have children of their own, their children are twice as likely to survive beyond the age of five.

“If we can help girls succeed, help women get opportunities, it really unlocks the development potential of communities that are experiencing poverty or injustice,” explains Michael.

Of the many programs Michael and Annie could have chosen to support during their run, they chose Rise Up Daughters of India because of their personal connection to it. Through his work as the president and CEO of World Vision Canada, Michael has seen first-hand how supporting girls and women can have an impact on communities around the world, and Annie has always been very interested in and supportive of her dad’s work. For her, it’s also a chance to see young women like her have the opportunity to get an excellent education and imagine a bright future.

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“I see myself in the girls that we’re helping,” she says. “I have been so lucky to be in a place where education and opportunities have been available to me, and I’ve had no barriers to those opportunities. I really want to have a part in helping those girls forge a bright future.”

Michael and Annie’s original goal was to raise $30,000, but they have already surpassed that goal and have raised more than $50,000. One generous donor has also agreed to match all donations above $30,000 up to $30,000. The father-daughter team is tapered and ready to tackle the streets of London on Sunday, and if you would like to support them, you can donate to the cause by visiting their fundraising page. For small donations of $10, you can also text “run” to 45678.