I had previously been to both UAE and Qatar on very short layovers and my stops during "Run-the-World" were to be short as well. Fortunately, I had contacted just the right people to help me make the most of my short stays.
The majority of my contacts for this journey were made through internet searches for Parkinson’s support groups in the specific countries or cities. As I have mentioned before, I had varying success locating groups to work with a each stop. In UAE, I stumbled across a wonderful group, Parkinson's Support Dubai (Parkinson's Support Dubai). This group began largely due to the effort of Gity Young, who has Parkinson’s, and Vonita Singh, whose father had Parkinson’s. Over the past few years they have been able to reach out to the Dubai PD community and establish a small support group. Their efforts have brought others into the circle of those helping PwP, including Ingrid van de Kamp, who was vital to coordinating my visit.
Additionally, in Dubai we were fortunate to have the support of members from Urban Energy Fitness (Urban Energy Fitness). In a similar fashion, a group of women with a interest in running have formed a group that regularly runs together through Urban Energy Fitness and works together help individuals meet their running goals.
In Doha, I was able to run with members of the Doha Bay Running Club (dohabayrunningclub.com) Once again this is a group that started only a few years ago and has grown steadily around a common interest. They have formed the primary running club in Qatar, but were quick to emphasize the social aspects of the club, including the post-run coffee shop discussions. They have seen, not only the growth of their own club, but the expansion of the running community throughout the country of Qatar an the entire Gulf region over the past few years.
Many people affected by Parkinson's around the world stand to benefit from involvement in a community to provide support and advance public awareness, along the lines the groups I have met in Dubai and Doha. Creating these communities requires involvement of people with the time and skills to make the group a success. Interesting, many that I have met in my travels that have organized support groups still need help in specific areas, such as IT and legal assistance. I feel there is potential for groups to work together to acquire this support in a collaborative fashion. One of my hopes for "Run-the-World" is that we can capture the snapshots of the needs around the world to help identify the problems that still need to be addressed. I encourage everyone to continue to follow the blog and most importantly like the Facebook page. It has become clear to me that the common voice that can come from my project will be primary through the network establish via Facebook.