A Vincentian priest and 52 Chinese nuns are running for the  BRICKS Great Wall Appeal, Building a Great Wall of Charity in China, Brick By Brick. The lend new meaning to the possibilities collaboration on the missions.

Fr. Joseph Loftus, CM, a self-designated reformed couch-potato, writes..

“For those of you not familiar with the miracle that has transformed me from a couch potato into a lean mean running machine (well, sort of) this is not a joke, though perhaps it is an aspect of my midlife crisis. Not wishing to indulge in too much navel gazing, suffice to say, that this will be my 6th half marathon and I have never been as fit as I feel today!

I am not out to bore you with details of my late-onset athleticism. From the beginning running in the Marathon has been about fundraising. BRICKS (the charity I have set up) is using my poor efforts to model Running as a Fund Raising Concept in China. Charity Running is  a well established practice in the west, it is unknown in China. Since 2009, BRICKS has persuaded, 9, 44, and this year 52 Nuns to run in the Beijing Marathon. Our efforts have raised over 30,000 euro for charity to date and we are heading for 20,000 euro this year. 100% of this sum is passed on to the Sisters’ projects. You can see details of the projects here

You can guess, by now that this is an invitation to donate. I have made it very easy by adding a Paypal button at the top right of the page and a series of clicks is all that is necessary to make sure you don’t miss this opportunity to support me through my midlife folly. Your donation will support The Guo De Zhuang Clinic which is raising funds to buy essential blood testing equipment for the local clinic.

Thank you for your generousity and your willingness both to make my efforts to stay off the couch seem worthwhile, and to help BRICKS in its efforts to

The sister’s site puts it this way.. “Ultimately, having sisters run in the Marathon is about learning new fund raising skills, and ensuring the sustainability of the work of Religious Women in China over time. A few years from now  they will be able to imagine raising 100% of their funds domestically, but for now that is overly optimistic. Sisters’ Run aims to build their confidence towards that point.

Sisters’ Run is a BRICKS Great Wall Appeal Project started in 2009 to encourage Chinese Catholic Nuns to begin to raise money locally for their Charitable projects, rather than depending on revenues from under-priced services, spontaneous donations from the public( in a country with an undeveloped tradition in such things), or the generosity of overseas benefactors and foundations. The rise in the RMB, the perception that China is now a rich country and the financial crisis in traditional donor countries means that the value of overseas donations is decreasing but other sources of income are not being developed fast enough. People in the rural areas cannot afford to pay the real cost of the services provided and without fund raising processes in place the gap between service fees and real costs is paid for in lower standards of service provision,, overworked staff, and poorly maintained buildings.

A particular problem
All charities in China find fund raising difficult; the legal framework necessary to increase donor confidence is absent and the government has not yet decided whether to encourage or prohibit the flourishing voluntary sector that one finds in other market economy countries. However city based charities have the advantage of access to the relativity well off sections of Chinese society. A difficulty faced by Sisters, is that they often from poor farming families and serve the poor in their own areas. . Farmers have not shared the benefits of the Chinese Economic Miracle to the degree increasingly found among urbanites. In consequence, while local people are often generous, the donations in absolute terms are minimal, At the same time, the social gap between the average Sister and the new monied classes is very wide. Few Sisters have the self confidence to cross the divide and request the donations that they need to continue their important welfare programmes.

In 2009 Sisters Run had ten runners, while last year there were 44 and in 2011 we hope to have 56. (on average four per project), Building on last year we also have increased the amount the Sisters’ must raise locally to be allowed register on this site. Now to be considered they have to raise 40% of their amount they need locally. We increased the local input to this level, as last year, despite howls of despair when we announced 20%, the average raised was 32%. BRICKS was able to raise Euro 21,000 to distribute among the Sisters’ projects. The run provided an opportunity to ask for donations in a way which is not too embarrassing for the Sisters, and their success shows them the degree to which people are willing to be generous if approached in the right way.

Other benefits
The Sisters not only benefit financially from this kind of fund raising activity. Most Sisters in China belong to diocesan communities, usually near where they grew up. They have few opportunities to experience how things are done in different places. They have little idea of life beyond the boundary of the diocese, and even those who do, have little opportunity to implement what they experience. Sisters’ Run allows them to meet Sisters from other places and to have a wider understanding of what serving the poor means in 21st Century China. A second benefit is the personal challenge of running in the marathon. The concept of healthy mind in a healthy body has few echos in Chinese culture and Sisters have little encouragement to exercise. Running has become a healthy hobby and an acceptable release from the rather too narrow round of Chinese Convent life. One of the most rewarding aspects of setting up the process has been to watch some Sisters who are running for their third third year nonchalantly register for the 21km half Marathon, when in year one they found the idea of the 9km run daunting. The new self confidence spills into other areas of their lives. Women in the countryside have difficult lives and the concepts of equality have barely penetrated the rural consciousness. Religious women in rural China are only marginally better off. The Sisters’ Run is only open to Sisters and to be singled out in this way is a rare affirmation of their individuality and dignity. That they so successfully reach and surpass personal goals for times, distance and funds raised is hugely empowering and this been an unintended but very important outcome of the whole initiative.

You can help!
Your donation on line or to our bank account will act as a multiplier to their own efforts and encourage the 56 Sisters to realise that fund raising is possible. You can go to a specific project page and donate there or here for a general donation to be shared equally among the 14 projects. The only deduction is the PayPal commission as it is BRICKS policy to pass on 100% of donations received to its projects. Sisters’ Run is helping China’s Religious Women find a way forward in the changing world of 21st century China. You can help by your generosity and you don’t need to run the Marathon to do it. click here instead.


BRICKS Great Wall Appeal, Building a Great Wall of Charity in China, Brick By Brick



BRICKS Great Wall Appeal, Building a Great Wall of Charity in China, Brick By Brick



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