Students, locals ran Aruna 5K to support freedom for sex workers in India


Participants run in the Aruna 5K on Saturday, Oct. 25. The race supported the Aruna Project.

Natasha Ivery and Natasha Ivery

On Oct. 25, participants from the University and the Bowling Green community ran in a 5K on the University’s campus to support freedom for sex workers in Mumbai, India.

The race began promptly at 10 a.m. with the starting line and clock right in front of Overman Hall. There were over 230 confirmed runners in the event.

Student volunteers handed out snacks, fruit and water, while music played and Freddie and Frieda made appearances.

Junior Devery Manier, host of the Aruna 5K, said that what makes the race especially special was where the money goes.

“I’m the external affairs chair for Black Student Union, so the president of BSU contacted me and said the event was looking for a host, so I volunteered,” Manier said. “One of the best parts of the race is that the money goes directly to the Aruna Project. Not BSU, not BGSU, not Cru, but it goes directly to helping the women in Mumbai get education, shelter, food and childcare.”

Ben Zauski, junior and coordinator of this year’s event, said that the race took a while to put together.

“I’m the student director of the 5K, so I was in charge of leading the student committee, but I worked with 11 other passionate students divided into different committees to put the race on. It took us six months and four days to organize this event, but I’m proud of it,” he said. “To me, freedom means hope and this event means that the University is willing to step up and help stop suffering for the atrocities these women face every day, things people like you and I could never even imagine.”

Senior Jessica Echales said the race was eye-opening.

“A member from the Aruna Project committee came to [Environmental Action Group’s] meeting and talked about it with us, so I decided to run with friends,” she said. “I knew a little about domestic violence already but this race really opened my eyes to everything. Freedom is important. It’s the right to equality, being independent and having the right to speak up in America.”

Nick Gillispie, the director of Cru, was also in attendance to show support and solidarity at the race.

“We’ve been in partnership with the Aruna Project for five years and this is the third year we’ve brought it to BGSU,” Gillispie said. “I’ve met the women in Mumbai and we developed a personal relationship with the project because we want to seek justice. I believe God is a just God and He wants to seek justice. The work is put in to enslave these women so we put work in toward freedom. It is costly, but it’s worth it to get them to freedom. It’s important we work toward freedom for these women, the freedom of having a choice to pursue dreams that are not tied to the will of another person.”