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Supporters visit India

Renee Schreurs

This blog is coming to you from Alyce, Community Manager for MNIK and just back from a 3 month stint on the ground in India.

Back in January the MNIK team sat around a dining room table in Boston, MA and while the snow came down outside we came up with the idea of bringing supporters to India to see our projects first-hand and run the Chennai Trail Marathon to raise funds. In that moment it seemed like ages away and a marathon didn’t seem that far to run… what’s 42km after all?

Needless to say, those who had committed themselves to running the Chennai Trail half and full marathon were feeling a little less confident in the days before the race as they contemplated the hot and humid weather, the slight twinges and pains from their training and the prevailing nerves!

Team photo at the end of the race.

Team photo at the end of the race.

Unfortunately, I’m not one of those who can proudly chalk up running a marathon in India to my list of achievements. I was too scared (sensible?) to sign up to the challenge. But, I was extremely moved to see all the other participants lace up their running shoes and eventually cross the finish line. Six of our team members and supporters bravely took on the challenge, fundraising a combined total of approximately $3,500 USD.

Participants arrived four days before race day. Together we spent 3 days visiting the sites of some of projects, meeting community members and experiencing some of India’s vibrant culture.

A warm welcome from the Londor community!

A warm welcome from the Londor community!

A highlight for me was the meal we shared together in one of the villages. We were welcomed with flowers and hugs by the community, then were shown around some of the new houses that were built for them in earlier in the year as a result of a partnership project with Programma VACA. Together we enjoyed a big meal, eating from banana leaves and taking selfies. The community were all shocked to hear that some of us were planning on running 42km. They wished us luck and promised us that they would join with us next year… we’ll see about that!

Some of the most joyous moments were playing with the children. The kids patiently taught carrom board to some of the guests, a game that is played by flicking small round pucks into holes on the board to score points. Most of us picked it up quickly but were still no match for the children, who we sneakily suspect of omitting some of the rules from their tutorial.

The group saw for themselves one of the temples which is a principle location for begging used by community members. We spoke to some of the women there and got an insight into how the practice of begging ostracises those people to the margins of society.

At the end of the tour the children bid farewell to tour participants with a dance and talent show. Everyone was very sad to say goodbye to each other. Next year we hope to run a similar tour, uniting our supporters with the impact they’re having in India. If you would like to be kept in the loop with dates and information on the 2018 fundraising tour email alyce@mynameiskumar.org to be added to our list.

Participants visit the one of the main temples members of the Londor community beg at. 

Participants visit the one of the main temples members of the Londor community beg at.