Fasting charity worker runs 313km from Oldham to London to fight poverty

Afruz Miah

A charity worker has run 313km from Oldham to London during Ramadan whilst fasting.

Afruz Miah, 47, who works for Global Relief Trust, has raised over £100,000 during the coronavirus pandemic.

A health scare inspired him to drastically change his lifestyle and take up running or face the reality of having a heart attack within six months, if not earlier.

Although running started off as a healthy exercise, Afruz started to raise funds for charity and ask for sponsorship for his runs to keep him motivated.

He told 5Pillars: “What really motivated me to do this was the 313 sahabas who fought in the Battle of Badr – that was their sacrifice and struggle and this was my struggle. I was also motivated by Sir Tom and what he did at his age as well as Dabir Islam Choudhury, the 101 year gentleman who raised half a million pounds.

“The most difficult part of this was missing my children, family and wife and not spending time with them in Ramadan during iftar and suhoor. Travelling back and forth to the destination where I started the day before and the pain and the wear and tear on the body was difficult too.

“I was tempted to give up in the first couple of days. I thought I can’t do this, it’s going to be too tough mentally and physically. But alhamdulilah gradually as I got into the journey and met new people and others started joining on the route that became a lot easier.”

Afruz Miah

He added: “I hope I managed to inspire and motivate people of the next generation and even my generation and hopefully there is more to come, bigger challenges. I have a marathon coming next in October so please participate, join in and let’s fight against poverty.”

After owning a string of takeaways in Oldham and getting married and having children, Afruz, who’s originally from Bangladesh, decided to change his career path to spend quality time with his family. He went on to become a teaching assistant and then worked his way towards qualifying as a maths teacher for 20 years.

Although his career was taking off, his health was deteriorating. He had health issues due to being overweight and needed a cataract operation in his left eye. His doctor advised it was due to hypertension and that he needed to change his lifestyle otherwise he would have a heart attack within six months.

Afruz has now become a well-known name within his community in Oldham and is encouraging his fellow Bangladeshi community to get involved in exercise and healthy eating.

As people from Bangladeshi background have high risk of illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension, Afruz recognised the importance of educating the community through his exercise and charity work.

“I want to encourage others to take responsibility for their health and try to make a difference for themselves as well as vulnerable people around the world. With the current pandemic and the BAME community being even more at risk of getting Covid, it is even more vital than ever for people from the Bangladeshi community with underlying illnesses to step up and change their lifestyle before it is too late,” he said.

Afruz’s humanitarian work with GRT has led him to travel to Burundi which has been recognised as the “hungriest nation in the world,” and most recently to Bangladesh.

After witnessing directly the effects of a disaster from a fire at a Rohingya refugee camp in Cox Bazaar which caused thousands of people to lose their homes, Afruz has the ambition to do even more for people in need.

Afruz hopes to encourage the communities that he travels through on his run to donate to GRT’s global fund supporting the most vulnerable people around the world.

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