31 Dec 2013
Despite running in marathons around the world for the past 10 years, Avanish Kumar, 38, admits he did not become passionate about running until he paired it with a social cause. This January, he will travel from the United Kingdom to Mumbai to run in the 2014 Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon for Apne Aap Women’s Collective (AAWC), an anti-trafficking NGO in Mumbai’s red light area.
Kumar explains, “I studied at Wilson College in Mumbai, where Kamathipura [the red light area] was a stone’s throw away, making the atrocities towards the women bluntly visible, although many people turned a blind eye. I have wanted to make a positive difference to their lives since that time, but never had an opportunity to be involved due to various personal commitments. As people say, ‘It’s never too late,’ so here I am.”
The Mumbai Marathon will be Kumar’s fourth full marathon and eighth marathon event. Having run his previous full marathon in 3 hours 57 minutes, he aims for a new personal best of 3 hours 30 minutes. His other 2014 marathon ambitions include completing the UK-based Bupa Great North Run half-marathon for AAWC and the London Marathon for kidney and cancer patients.
Originally from Bihar, Kumar grew up in Mumbai and recently relocated to Newcastle, United Kingdom, where he works as a project manager for a multi-national information technology consultancy. Despite having lived around the world in places like New Delhi; Sydney, Australia; and Michigan, United States; Kumar finds time to visit Mumbai at least once a year with his wife and two children.
“To me, being successful in life means bringing happiness to others’ lives,” Kumar said. “I cannot change the world alone, but I can make a difference to at least one person, even someone whom I don’t know personally. I hope my contributions would make my children proud when they grow up.”
About Apne Aap Women’s Collective
Founded in 1998, Apne Aap Women’s Collective (AAWC) serves the women, girls, and toddlers of the Greater Kamathipura Area, one of the largest and oldest red light areas in Asia. By providing its members with the tools and resources to create a better life, AAWC seeks to empower women who have been trafficked into brothel-based prostitution and to prevent intergenerational trafficking of girls and young children who grow up in the brothels. Since its inception, AAWC has served more than 1,500 women, 650 girls and 400 toddlers. Learn more at www.aawc.in.