South Korea's key news service Yonhap News Agency and international charity Save the Children co-hosted a fund-raising marathon this morning, seeking to lend a helping hand to malnourished children in Ethiopia and increase public awareness of children's rights.
"The way for happiness is to seek well-being all together. We cannot be happy when our neighbors are having hard times," Yonhap CEO Park No-hwang said during the opening speech. "Participants' every step will become a huge help to children suffering from hunger and disease."
The event was also sponsored by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Yonhap News TV, a 24-hour all-news channel affiliated with Yonhap. The proceeds from the entry fee of 10,000 won (US$9.06) per person will be spent on purchasing medical goods for children in Ethiopia.
Around 3,000 participants ran the shortened 4.2-kilometer course, while learning about the various challenges children confront in troubled countries, including malnutrition, a lack of drinkable water and diseases including malaria.
"(The fund) will help young children to survive and be able to be healthy," said John Graham, the country director of Save the Children in Ethiopia, adding the fund will especially focus on supporting newborn babies.
Graham said roughly 80,000 children die within 28 days of birth every year in Ethiopia due to diseases that are easily preventable, highlighting that funds raised from events like the marathon can effectively help save more lives.
"We can also help mothers to get prenatal care, to get them into hospitals and institutions to get a safe birth. We also help children after they are born to make sure they get proper breast-feeding and nutrition," Graham said, adding that infections after birth currently harm many.
"During the war and post-war period, South Korea was very poor. Now, I think Koreans are very generous in helping out countries that are poor," Graham said, adding the funds from South Koreans can also help children to get a quality education and enjoy good livelihoods.
South Korea and Ethiopia have maintained a close relationship for decades. The African country is one of 16 nations that sent combat troops during the 1950-53 Korean War as part of U.N. forces to help defend the South from the North. More than 6,000 Ethiopian troops joined the war and 122 were killed.
The charity has been hosting a global-wide marathon to help spark awareness of children's rights since 2011.