It is a familiar proverb whose message remains as relevant in the 21st century as it was on the day it was first scribed by a philosopher who understood human nature and the importance of education.
The same principal holds true in our hometown community where a group of Cleveland High School students studying “Holocaust Literature” have organized a fundraiser whose proceeds will benefit an international cause, but whose roots are planted in Bradley County.
We speak of the “Run for Cover 5K” glow run Saturday night that hopes to again raise more than $2,000 — as it did last year — for a heartwarming project on the other side of the world coordinated by People for Care and Learning. Those who know of PCL also know it is a global outreach anchored in Cleveland.
The project is “Build a City” and the plan is to bring change to Cambodians who were displaced from their homes in recent years and forced to live in the most primitive of conditions. Most are without jobs. Many live in shacks made of material scraps. And sadly, many — men, women and children — are starving.
PCL’s intent through “Build a City” is literally ... to build a new city where these in-country refugees can find a livelihood, humane living conditions and hope for a better future. Last year’s CHS “Run for Cover” fundraiser for PCL paid for the construction of two houses.
The reference to “teaching a man to fish” applies here because the encompassing PCL initiative is doing just that — it is teaching displaced Cambodians to change their lives through opportunity. To make this happen requires education, decent living conditions and a fair chance to succeed.
But the first step is funding.
This is the importance of “Run for Cover” whose young architects have identified a pressing social cause, and have devised a strategy to help.
It is a project on the other side of the world, but its recipients are people ... those who, in the vernacular of Habitat for Humanity, need a hand up.
Even more heartwarming is the idea that this local initiative is the brainstorm of four CHS students: Megan Byrd, Meredith Markiewicz, Shayna Chilling and Abigail Lauderback. They are students in the “Holocaust Literature” class of Cleveland City Schools teacher Athena Davis, and this is their project.
It is intended as a memorialization of the Holocaust, a tragic period (1933 to 1945) when Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich henchmen murdered more than 6 million Jews and other minorities.
Another genocide took place in the late 1970s in Cambodia when the oppressive, communist regime of the Khmer Rouge was linked to the deaths of 1.5 to 3 million Cambodians — either through starvation, abuse or murder. The atrocity was documented in the 1984 film “The Killing Fields.”
Perhaps it is this tragedy in the Southeast Asian country that led miracle workers like People for Care and Learning, and four Cleveland High School students, to believe in the power of change ... especially when it is created through the gift of opportunity.
Indeed, the voices of the students are refreshing.
“Instead of overviewing the plight of people ... we try to help the people who have been hurt by their government,” young Meredith Markiewicz told our newspaper.
Her classmate Megan Byrd added, “It is all about how it could happen to you. Why not go over there and help them or give money to help them?”
Saturday night’s CHS track and Greenway event is for all: runners, joggers and walkers who enjoy exercise and who want to help people. Registration starts at 6 p.m. at the CHS track. The race begins at 7 and will include a stretch of the Greenway north toward Tinsley Park. Cost is $30 per participant.
It’s a glow run so participants will receive a glow stick. But feel free to wear anything that will help light a path to awareness.
The kids are doing their part. Several community-minded sponsors are as well.
We hope you will, too.