We came. We saw. We ran. We conquered!

LIEBE BEWEGT means Love Moves.

Berlin, Germany. June 2016: Language teacher Debbie Wright and photographer Talitha Brauer (Brother's Keeper International) brainstormed a new project: Liebe bewegt. The objective? To create space for refugees and Berliners to get to know each other around a common interest. In July, a small band of runners from different backgrounds started training together on Mondays in preparation for the Müggelsee run.

They had one goal in mind: to run together for friendship.

October 16, 2016, 8:30 am: With tired bodies and eager minds, Berliners — old and new — met at Ostkreuz Bahnhof the morning of the race. We were ready to run together as a group and see our hard work pay off. The first step: getting to the race.

Heading east to the outskirts of Berlin on the S-Bahn.
Chilling while waiting for overcrowded buses.

Public transportation wasn’t ready for the massive amounts of people heading to the race, so we enjoyed each other’s company while we waited 40 minutes for the bus to Müggelsee, a beautiful lake in southeast Berlin.

We were happy to join Debbie’s friends from England upon arriving at the lake. Not only were they the sponsors providing team t-shirts, they also came all the way from Birmingham to run with us.

Friends from England and 10K participants.

We made our way to the starting line where the half-marathoners were gathering to begin the race. From the Liebe bewegt crew, Debbie, Abdullah, Julia, Hassan, and Ahmad were the brave runners to take on the challenge—their first half-marathon ever.

After cheering the half-marathoners on, the rest of us got ready for the 10K. All spirits were high as the time to run had arrived.

Spirits running high in anticipation of the race!

Alongside hundreds of others, our band of runners took off, running side by side. It was a challenge to run on the narrow path through the woods. Runners who tried to overtake others did so at their own risk, as the ground was muddy and uneven on either side of the path. Eventually the crowd thinned out about three kilometers into the race.

Our group was separated for the first three kilometers, but from 3km–6km, we kept a steady pace with one another, punctuated by breathless encouragements like, “Faster!” and “You can do it!”

While rounding the last turn, hands were in the air and on backs, as we pushed each other towards the goal. After crossing the finish line, the first runners waited along the path, cheering for the rest as they persevered ’til the end. We hugged and high-fived each Liebe bewegt friend as they completed the race. No one was finished until we all were.

This sportsmanship and solidarity exemplified the motto on our T-shirts —

Together We Run — نجري معاً.

It was the definition of teamwork: No one was left behind.

All members of our group finished the race with pride. Whether it was their first race ever, their first half-marathon, or a personal record, everyone was glad knowing that they finished strong with newly made friends.

Everyone ran with love.

Liebe Bewegt. Love Moves.

Together We Ran.

Photos and story by Danica Simonet and Talitha Brauer, reporting for Brother's Keeper International.

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❤, Danica & Talitha