Connecting with The Lost Girls
Meet the sensational Lost Girls - three women who chronicled their yearlong round-the-world adventure on their website: LostGirlsWorld. From it, they have published a memoir of their travels and LostGirlsWorld is now the leading travel resource for young women on the road. In addition to providing their stories and expertise, The Lost Girls are doing great things to help make this world a better place. The Lost Girls Races is one of these efforts and we're fortunate to have Holly share her inspiration and efforts in making this race a reality...
When I first quit my job back in 2006 to follow a dream of traveling the globe with my two friends, Jen and Amanda, I could not have even imagined how many amazing people I would meet along the way. That's the thing about travel: it connects us and brings us together. A journey is as much about the people you encounter along the way as it is about the places you visit. That's why The Lost Girls teamed up with Tripping; we would have loved if a site like this existed during our own RTW trip to connect us with locals! And now we're trying to connect other Lost Girls and Boys across the States and around the world to get in shape for a good cause with the kickoff of The Lost Girls Races.
How it all began...
Travel can also transform us - especially when we step outside of our comfort zone. My fellow Lost Girls and I volunteered in Kenya through a program called Village Volunteers during our yearlong trip. We volunteered in the small town of Kitale where we lived in a hut without running water or other things I once considered necessities (such as wi-fi!). It was here that I encountered some really amazing people changing lives in their communities.
One of these people is a man named Joshua, who welcomed us into his home. Joshua ran a primary school that turned into a boarding school because he refused to turn away orphans or other young girls in need. He gave girls who otherwise would have been out on the streets (or worse) a chance at an education. Then there was Sister Freda, who used hers and her husband Richard's savings to help the sick in her area who couldn't afford medical care by starting mobile clinics. Sister Freda said, "Someone has to help them - why shouldn't it be me?" Now she owns a nursing school enabling other young people in the community to help those who are suffering and might otherwise die without their aid. Joshua and Sister Freda inspired me; they made me realize that every single one of us has more power to impact our communities - and the world - than I'd ever imagined. If they can do it, why can't we?
When I returned to New York after my year abroad, I never forgot the girls at Joshua's school, or the kids treated for illnesses such as malaria by Sister Freda's clinic, who were given a second chance. I started reading books like Half the Sky by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl DuWunn, and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. I kept in touch with Shana Greene, founder of Village Volunteers. These books enforced the message that education is not only the key to overcoming poverty, but also vital for avoiding war. Educated people are less likely to fall prey to fundamentalism. They are more likely to feel empowered and to speak up against injustice. Educating girls in particular has been shown to impact entire villages because birth rates decline. In Half the Sky, it's stated that each additional year of primary school education a girl receives results in .26 fewer children. Women are also more likely to spend additional income earned from having a degree on their own children's education when compared with men.
So what can a Lost Girl (or Boy) do?
After seeing firsthand the benefits of educating girls during my trip, and reading up on the issue upon returning home, I dreamed of getting Lost Girls (and Boys!) involved in making it happen. But the issue seemed so daunting and I was lost on where to even begin. I continued to search for ways to initiate this mission by talking to as many people as I could. It was when a fellow LG editor, Nancy Yeomans, pointed out that I like to run and that many organizations use races to fundraise for worthy causes, that suddenly everything fell into place.
I remembered running down muddy dirt roads bordered by sunflowers in Kenya and passersby stopping to shout, "Sister, where on earth are you running to? What are you training for?" I ran laps around my block as a child, ran my way through neighborhoods around the world, trained for road races such as the New York City marathon. Why not combine something I'm passionate about - training for races to have a healthy goal - with a good cause that would unite Lost Girls everywhere? I wanted the Lost Girls' fundraising efforts to be fun, and training with other Lost Girls/Boys to get in shape while making a difference is part of what the LG mission is all about: friendship, making time to live a healthy, passionate life, and exploring the world around you. Thus, The Lost Girls Races were born.
Let The Lost Girls Races begin!
I'm thrilled to announce that we have a team of seven guys and girls for the first-ever Lost Girls Race: the Seneca 7. This race is a 77.7 mile relay race around gorgeous Seneca Lake, located in the middle of upstate New York's wine country and is taking place on April 30th. I'll be chronicling everything from how we train, to the money we raise, to getting video footage of the actual race day. Nancy, LG editor, also organized another LG team for the Tough Mudder in Vermont taking place the following weekend.
So now we're turing to all you Lost Girls and Boys who want to get in shape for a good cause. Please participate in a Lost Girls Race by signing up for the race in your area, collecting donations, and sending those donations to Village Volunteers to help educate kids in need. Click here to learn more about how you can get involved.
Come meet up!
Whether you're planning to run a race or your own RTW trip, The Lost Girls love hearing from you! Come talk to us in person if you'll be in DC this weekend! We'll be at Hostelling International DC (1009 11th Street NW) for Shoot, Busk and Blog - a panel discussion and pub crawl - on March 11th. We'll discuss the best way to take your travel writing, photos and video to the next level - and can swap travel tales afterwards. We'll also be at the Travel and Adventure Show on Saturday and Sunday!
Can't get enough of The Lost Girls? Us either. Be sure to join their Tripping Network to stay connected with fellow lost girls around the world!