This story originally appeared in the July issue of Columbus BeLocal, a a definitive guide for new residents published by the company behind N2GIVES. To learn more, visit N2 Publishing.
“About 8 years ago, the day before I would run the Indianapolis Marathon, I picked up a DVD at the marathon registration expo produced by Matt Damon entitled Running the Sahara. This was a full-length documentary about three guys who ran across the Sahara Desert to raise awareness of the drought in North Africa. After watching the film, I had a strong desire to use my running to make this world a better place,” says John T. Moriarty.
Speaking Up for the Oppressed
A few years ago, John felt it was time to put his feet to action after reading the words of a Proverb, “Speak up for the oppressed.” He longed to make a difference.
Who are the oppressed? John explains, “I have become profoundly aware of the dehumanizing exploitation of children in India, a country which has a tremendous problem with human trafficking. The US State Department reports that there are over 18 million people trafficked in India, nearly 1.4 million of them sexually exploited children. The high incidence of unreported cases means that the number could be nearer to 2 million.”
John, who has been to India over 20 times for non-profit work, was determined to make a difference. He says, “I wanted to use my running to raise awareness to facilitate rescue and aftercare for trafficked children.” He has shared this with his church and was met with overwhelming support.
Run India: 2 Million Steps For Hope
John decided to run across India to bring greater awareness to the inhumanity of human trafficking in 2017.
“This was no small feat,” says John. “I determined that it would take 2140 steps or so, at our targeted pace, to run one mile. Twenty-one hundred forty steps multiplied by 945 miles equals two million steps (nearly 1000 miles).”
Their route encompassed three of the five largest cities in India: Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai where thousands of children are kidnapped, sold and manipulated into the sex-slave industry every year.
John says, “In 2017 our team ran 1000 miles in 34 days from Mumbai to Chennai. In 2018 the team cycled AND RAN 500 miles from Chennai to Kovalam and this past January, the team ran and cycled 770 miles from Chennai to Bhubaneswar. If you are interested in joining us in January 2020, we will begin our journey in the red-light district of Kolkata, running and cycling 930 miles and finishing in Delhi. To date, 15,000 Indian students have heard our prevention message.”
Run India was the start of John’s non-profit organization called Sparrow’s Hope. He explains, “God directed me to Jesus’ words about the sparrow, how common they are and how often they are ignored as insignificant. But God cares for them and how much more does He care for those who are oppressed by being trafficked?”
Light Brigade in Ohio
While India has sex trafficking, John was surprised to learn that Ohio is ranked the 4th highest in sex trafficking in the United States. While he has started “Run India” in 2017, John started “Light Brigade” in Ohio in 2018.
He invites others to join with him in this fight. From April through October, the Light Brigade team meets on a Saturday evening twice a month from 7-9 to run/walk the streets of Columbus where they hand out purses to women who are trafficked that include information on how to get out as well as snacks & toiletries.
John comments, “We wear lights on our heads and offer prayer to those who desire it. We park at a fire station and pick a different area each time, typically either Sullivant Avenue, West Broad Street or Parsons Avenue. Come join us some Saturday evening.”
Never underestimate the power of one individual to change the world. For more information, check out www.sparrowshope.org.
Article written by Elizabeth McCabe.