Sunday, September 28, 2008

How do Strides give Hope?

Hello everyone,

Welcome to Strides of Hope 2008-09! It is awesome to be part of the Strides of Hope with such a diverse & energetic group of people - different people with one goal; to support development work for the underprivileged in India. It's always interesting to learn why people do this sort of thing - subject their bodies to rigorous training & pain to raise money. If you want to do support a good cause, isn't it simpler to just donate and be done with it? Is money the only link between running and helping projects?

When I first ran for Asha in 2006, I knew my fundraising would go towards projects, but I wondered how and if my running efforts would have any impact on the lives of underprivileged children. Then when I ran my first half-marathon, it struck me. As I was struggling up the hill on my 10th mile, I felt like throwing in the towel, and the thought hit me - here I was complaining about the uphill and distance, but there were children in India who walked 8km back and forth every day to school. And while I could go home, celebrate and take a hot soak, these children had no respite and no option but to keep walking. I really had nothing to complain about. This motivated me to finish my race strongly. As I held up my finisher's medal, my friend and pacer, Santhosh, remarked, "Good job! It was worth running for, wasn't it?" And I considered the medal and realized it was not the piece of metal that was worth running for, but for the kids - so they can study!

The running impacted me directly, in that it helped me empathise and make a connection with children whom Asha served. A month later, I became involved in Prasanna Jyothi. Regardless of diversity (of background and experience), hardship can be a great leveller. And it also keeps you focused on the important things in life.

This year, through the SOH program, my goal is to keep my eye on what really matters in life.

- Sharanya

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