From Australia, Warren McMillan is a director of PiCCA and an avid runner. When he was young, he used to run for fitness. But due to work and family commitments, he has little time for exercise. A few years back, he had a serious health issue and was determined to complete his first marathon by the end of that year.
He started slowly, trained hard, and gradually built up strength and aerobic capacity throughout his training. With his determination, he completed his first marathon.
So, let’s find out what inspired him to join the Run For Vietnam Online Challenge 2020.
RS: What drives you to start running?
Warren: Originally, I thought of running as a way to lose weight, to get fit and regain health. I still think of it that way, as I have gained so many health benefits from taking up running as part of my lifestyle. But now I see it as so much more. I have discovered that running is good for the heart, body, mind and soul.
Running is exhilarating. A good run in the spring rain, a run as the sun breaks over a still sleeping city, a run along the beach, a run through a rainforest track, makes you breathe in the joy of life and is just the best fun you can have.
To cap it all off, there is nothing at all like the sensation of being part of a crowd of 6 or 7 thousand people gathering together at the start of an official race. Only a handful or so of these people will run with any intent to win. Some more will run to be their very best.
The rest, just like me, will run to soak up the adrenaline, the rush, the joy, the happiness, the gift of life on this earth.
RS: As a director of PICCA Organisation, how do you manage to find balance between running and work?
Warren: Balance is not an issue for me anymore. I love running. I love what I do at PiCCA, and I love my friends and family. I simply spend time doing or being with the things I love. Balance comes easily when you love what you do.
Some friends and I set up PiCCA together when we retired. We set it up because we wanted to contribute to the world that had been pretty good to us in some small way. We had all had reasonable careers, and we knew we still had the capacity and skill to offer.
Through PiCCA, we help develop projects together with our partners in countries around the world. These are small projects but ones that make an exponential difference in improving health, education, livelihood, women’s safety or food security outcomes in the communities where we work.
Sometimes, I think we are the real beneficiaries. We have the opportunity to work with communities in places like Nepal, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, and others. We are blessed and privileged to be working in these places. We learn so much, and we are given so much from the hearts of the people we meet. How lucky are we!
RS: What gives you the motivation to run in solidarity with your community in Vietnam by joining the Run For Vietnam Online Challenge 2020?
Warren: I first visited Vietnam with my family about 10 years ago and loved it. As PiCCA, we started working with our partners in Vietnam in 2018, a fantastic organisation called Hearts for Hue (H4H).
Our first project with H4H supported 50 families, who had family members with disabilities, to build up chicken farming businesses. A small project, but one that has helped people with disability in the community gain access to sources of income and food supply and participate with dignity in community life as farmers and small business operators.
Our second project that’s just starting is a sanitation and hygiene project, building hygienic latrines in a remote village near the border with Laos. I was planning to visit Vietnam in April, but the pandemic made that impossible.
I was still feeling very sad about that when, quite by accident, I stumbled across The Run for Vietnam. When I saw it, it seemed a perfect way to show my support to the people we work with in Vietnam, through two aspects of things that I love, my running and our work through PiCCA.
RS: How has running for Vietnam made an impact in your work and life?
Warren: I think I will be able to answer this one better after I have done the run. So far, I can say I’ve been talking with Hearts for Hue about this run, and they are very excited to hear about it.
I hope that H4H is encouraged to carry on its vital work, knowing that it is valued by people in Vietnam certainly, but also by people here in Australia and through its other partners across the world.
RS: During this pandemic, how did your charity organisation continue to contribute and make sure the community is safe and healthy?
Warren: The pandemic has changed the way we work. Normally, we would have made multiple visits to the communities where our projects are happening.
Now, of course, we are staying home and do our work online. We have contacted all our partners overseas and offered our solidarity and shared information with them as they manage the extra challenge of the virus on top of the usual challenges they face on a routine basis.
RS: As a runner, how can you encourage others to run as well?
Warren: People often say to me that they would like to be able to do what I do. I tell them they can. All you need to do is put one foot in front of the other, even if you can only do that a few times on the first day.
On the second day, add a few more steps. On the third, a few more. It seems too simple to be true, and yes, there is more to running than that, but there is a fundamental truth in Lao Tzu’s observation that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
After reading his inspired story, are you motivated to join Warren to Run For Vietnam Online Challenge 2020 this year?
PiCCA (Partners in International Collaborative Community Aid Ltd.) pools donations of money, time and expertise to assist communities overseas work towards greater equity, opportunity, justice and peace. Find out more about their work and how you can contribute here.