ENCINITAS — When Ganisha Sethi moved to Encinitas in August 2009, she couldn’t help but notice how friendly fellow runners were along Coast Highway 101.
“Everyone said ‘hi,’” she remembers. “You don’t see people enjoying what they are doing like this anywhere else in the world.”
Sethi is reaching out to those runners, hoping to recruit them to join her team for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon on June 5. The team will raise money to benefit the nonprofit Home of Hope, which helps to care for thousands of orphaned children in India — the “poorest of the poor” — by providing shelter, schools and junior and technical colleges.
“When I learned of Home of Hope, and how a team of passionate volunteers had touched the lives of over 50,000 children, I wanted to find a way to help them, and (in doing that) I found my best reason for running!” she explained.
Sethi reports that Home of Hope has raised $1.8 million to support medical centers, computer labs, mobile libraries and schools where children learn to read and write English.
“I was so inspired by this, I will be taking a very short break from work this fall, and will train teachers at one of the Home of Hope locations, the Koshish School in Delhi,” she said. “My goal is to pass along what I learned at Claremont Graduate University about the skills of inspiring children to learn, how to track their progress and the best ways to inspire them more.”
Joining her will be Tanya Shah, a graduate of UC Davis who is currently working on her teaching credential with the goal of studying educational development at a graduate level.
“I initially learned about the English Empowerment Program at a presentation Ganisha gave at a Home of Hope meeting two years ago,” she said. “I’ve always admired HOH and have been regularly attending their events for years.”
Sethi and Shah will teach as a tag team, with Shah traveling to India in July and Sethi following later.
“Rather than taking a one-time trip, we hope to create something that will last and grow,” Shah explained. “Ganisha and I want to keep monitoring the project with the hope that this pilot journey will be the first of many.”
Sethi, like Shah, is a second-generation American. She was born and raised in Fresno and began attending UC Riverside at the age of 17, majoring in English and Spanish. After graduation she earned a masters in education, and a credential in English from Clairemont Graduate University.
Sethi began running while teaching in East Los Angeles.
“I was depressed about the circumstances that my students came from and the fact that I couldn’t do anything about it,” she said. “I needed an outlet for my feelings and in April 2008 signed up for the San Francisco Half Marathon scheduled in July.”
She added, “I didn’t know if I could handle it. I started by running 3 miles a day, huffing and puffing, and went from there.”
The following year, Sethi and her twin brother, and older sister, moved to Encinitas to be closer to their parents who had relocated from Fresno because of concerns about their father’s health.
“We settled in Encinitas because my mother has been a member of the Self-Realization Fellowship for 20 years and it was her dream to live here,” she said.
Sethi continues to train, running 20 miles a day, four days a week, at LA Fitness. In addition, she runs between Moonlight Beach (Encinitas) and Del Mar on weekends.
“I’m a one-man team,” she said. “I would like to get other runners to sign up so we can start making T-shirts.”
To join Sethi’s Home of Hope team, e-mail [email protected] or call (559) 930-0789.