I am Monks. I am a forty-something, out-of-the-ordinary soft toy. I am not an orphan. In fact, I am loved and cherished by my owner.  I have been her faithful companion for more than four decades now – since that very first day I got to cheer her up in her hospital bed…

She was 6 and in hospital after an accident in which she broke her femur bone.  Following an operation to attach a plate in her leg, she had to spend 8 weeks in traction at the local hospital, and I was the one that kept her company and gave her courage. I was her buddy while she healed over a period of 6 months unable to run around due to her leg being in a cast, and having to rely on crutches.

I must have been very special to her, as even when she was able to return to school with legs as strong as new, I was always close by.  In fact, I am the only toy that has been her constant companion on her life journey.

Just this morning I was hopping and bopping inside her backpack on her run. Not a common sight to seeing a distinguished monkey, like myself, on someone’s back, but she has decided that she is going to be taking me along for these 30 days of Orphan Month (November). She is doing a 10km run every day this month as part of the Run4Hope[1] initiative and I get to adventure along.

She says that I am part of this initiative as a symbol of hope and a reminder that the circumstances you find yourself in today, don’t have to be the circumstances of tomorrow!  I must admit exploring East London on her runs with her friends is a lot more fun than lying in that hospital bed.  It does make me think whether her Mom & Dad, in those scary weeks, could ever have imagined the two of us running 300km in 30 days.  I am sure they would have hoped so… so I guess its easy to see why I am the symbol of hope!

Did you know that according to statistics there are 4 million orphans in South Africa?  That is staggering. Who will speak for those without a voice? Is there hope for them? For me hope is an optimistic thought process, based on a positive attitude, a choice… a choice to be happy. I am so honored to be the symbol of hope – hope for a better life for the orphans we are running for. One day, with communities support and initiatives like Run4Hope, the abandoned babies can grow into inspiring, world-changing leaders who could make a positive impact!

Every day that we run I, have seen the inquisitive looks on people’s faces when they see us. Now they don’t need to wonder anymore – they can know that I am Monks, a simple soft toy with a mission of hope.

Maybe you can also join our Run4Hope and make a difference this Orphan Month.

Kind regards,