Walk this weekend to help Middle Eastern women

Two local high school Key Clubs are reaching out to vulnerable young women in Iran and Afghanistan. Touched and inspired by the stories told by a grandmother and aunt who had visited Iran, Torrey Pines High School senior and Key Club president Nadia Farjood wondered if there was a way for her group to do something to help.

For the first time ever, Farjood and the club have organized a community walk, The Walk for Hope 5K, which will take place in Carmel Valley on Sunday, Sept. 21 at 9 a.m. The walk will start from Ocean Air School and will support the Omid-e-Mehr Foundation.

“We’re really excited about this event,” said Farjood. “Anybody who wants to come is welcome, we’d love to see everybody there.”

Runners are welcome too, invited to try their luck at keeping up with the section champion Torrey Pines cross country team.

Established in 2004 in Iran, the Omid-e-Mehr Foundation helps Iranian and Afghani young women achieve self-awareness, education and self-sufficiency.

Life for young girls in countries like Afghanistan and Iran can be traumatic. Some have been sold into prostitution, have been physically abused or are illiterate due to a lack of educational opportunities.

“They help them to get personal independence and confidence to go off in their own pursuits,” Farjood said of Omid.

Key Club is a small branch of the Kiwanis organization and is a youth community service group. In past years, they have taken pledges at KPBS, organized campus-recycling efforts, volunteered at soup kitchens and at other organization’s walks such as the Walk for Diabetes.

To start their own walk, the club enlisted the help of the first-year Canyon Crest Academy Key Club.

“We’re trying to help them get started,” Farjood said. “Hopefully it will inspire them in their future endeavors.”

The Torrey Pines Key Club chapter is an active group, last year they had 165 members. While they haven’t had their official membership tallied this year yet, their first meeting drew 200 people.

Marjaneh Halati, the founder of the Omid Foundation, said as a result of the Torrey Pines Walk for Hope, others have been inspired to do the same.

A young Iranian-Australian girl in Perth, Australia, an Iranian-American girl in Maryland and a Persian language school in the United Kingdom are all now planning their own walks. A young Iranian-British investment banker even wants to organize a Marathon for Hope.

Halati said she found it amazing that the walk San Diego has “lit the spark under so many people already.”

“It shows how contagious a good deed that comes from the heart can be,” Halati said.

Entry fees for the race are $15 for students, $25 adults. Pre-race registration begins at 8 a.m. Ocean Air School starting line is located at 11444 Canter Heights Drive. For more information or to register, e-mail If unable to walk, donations can be sent to Key Club-Walk for Hope, 10638 Amberglades Lane, San Diego, CA 92130.

Walk for Hope

Presented by the Torrey Pines and Canyon Crest Key Club’s

9 a.m. at Ocean Air School, registration at 8 a.m.

Entry fees $15 for students, $25 adults

To register, contact