Marathon des Sables

Marathon des Sables is an “ultra-marathon” ran over six days, stretching around 250 km, with only one rest day, being ranked by discovery channel as the “toughest footrace on earth in the most unforgiving terrain”. With a long route split over different stages and checkpoints, the journey is changed and customized every year to provide a full experience to the participants. During the day, the competitors fight with every breath to make it through, at night resting in tents in villages to regain their strength for the next trek. This race is made possible with a beautiful team of coordinators, staff support, tents, helicopters, and more, guiding the warriors through their journey.

In 2015, our very own Ghassan Hajjar was the only Lebanese committed to completing the 30th Marathon des Sables on behalf of saving 10 AFEL children.

Ghassan’s values are commitment, challenge, surpassing oneself, performance, survival, ambition, authenticity, resilience, human connections, triumph, memories, and humanity. His values perfectly represent what AFEL instils and makes shine in the youth, nurturing and illuminating their full potential.

Ghassan along with AFEL documented every step of the journey: from planning, to execution, to live updated in the desert. AFEL wished him off to a beautiful start, with full care and even a farewell at the airport. Every day, encouraging words were fed & kind letters were relayed to Ghassan in the desert.

Sometimes connection was lost, and information was not transmitted, but we never lost hope, as we knew Ghassan would come out triumphant in the end! We continued to send our wishes of success to our beloved Ghassan.

Ghassan came through, triumphant and motivated as ever at the end of a six-day stretch. Upon finishing the race, Ghassan sent a beautiful message to all:

“My Race is over … But AFEL children still face their challenges.

For 40 years AFEL has been discretely working and fighting hard to pave the way for thousands of unprivileged young boys and girls.

I may have gone through moments of severe discomfort, suffering and doubt, but that was my own way of showing the daily efforts to run such an NGO and the unchosen type of struggle its kids go through.

It is AFEL that deserves and requires all the attention but mainly your recurrent follow up and support.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you have done and all you would still do.

Marathon Des Sables has been a major experience .. a story to tell.

Stay Tuned.


Along every step of the way, we remember our beautiful sponsors, with which we were able to fund 13 beautiful children’s recoveries:

  • Eau Thermale Avene
  • Holdal Abou Adal Group
  • Toyota Lebanon
  • Rotary International
  • Societe Generale de Banque au Liban
  • Beirut Marathon Association
  • Fondation Saradar
  • Speed Stick Lebanon
  • T. Kahale & Co
  • Entire fundraising team