Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mesgana Dancers and Meseret Defar

What a great year Meseret Defar is having in 2006! She has been in absolute top form, winning many races and even setting the 5000M World Record, not to mention the sizzling duel she has been on with Tirunesh Dibaba in European races throughout the summer.

However, even with all this grand achievement on the track, her most significant and enduring work performed this year may well be what she has been doing off the track, and completely unrelated to the sport of running. Meseret has been serving as an honorary director of the Mesgana Dancers, a group of ten Ethiopian girls, ages ranging from 7 to 12. They are part of close to 700 Ethiopian girls whose education is sponsored by a Utah based organization named Children of Ethiopia Education Fund (COEEF).

The Mesgana Dancers were on tour in the United States this past August and September, with performances in Utah, Nevada, California, and Washington, D.C. Their tour has received coverage on national media outlets including ABC and MSNBC. The purpose of the tour was to raise awareness about the importance of girls' education in Ethiopia and the work COEEF is doing in that regard.

Meseret, having been impressed with the effort and dedication of COEEF, agreed to join the Mesgana Dancers in Utah during their tour. This meant taking time out of her busy summer racing schedule, and bypassing some highly profitable race appearances, to spend time with the young Ethiopian girls in Utah. Meseret even paid for the costumes the girls needed for their performances. She states the reason for her involvement being the need for Ethiopians to do their share when non-Ethiopians are doing so much to help our own children.

Together with other sponsors such as Ethiopian Airlines, Meseret was instrumental in making the Mesgana Dancers' USA tour a success. As a direct result of Meseret lending her celebrity status to support the efforts of COEEF, many Ethiopian young girls will be able to receive quality education that they otherwise would not have had.

Such noble work will have positive impact on many Ethiopians for generations to come, which is worth much more than even a World Record run on the track.

Bravo Meseret for showing the way!

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