In 2013 a team of crazy dedicated people ran to India.
Well, kind of.
We didn’t physically run from the UK to India but we did run the distance, and that’s no easy feat. We ‘ran’ 9046 kms (more, actually) from London to Pune, India. Why? It was a massive fundraising campaign for a charity close to our hearts called Ashraya Initiative for Children. We had a fancy website, Just Giving pages, frequent updates, and an international team of runners and supporters. However, due to a number of ridiculous technical glitches and mistakes, we lost the website and we (ahem, I) missed the point on our tracking document when we actually ‘arrived’ in Pune… by months. And so finally, about 6 months after we reached the finish line, here’s a post on a totally different website to thank everyone who supported us on the long journey.
First, a reminder:
Nestled on a hill in the middle of rural India lies a little international college that teaches 200 students from all over the world for their last two years of secondary school. Fondly known as “MUWCI” (rhymes with pukey) by many, Mahindra United World College of India led to the brain child that was Ashraya Initiative for Children. The Ashraya Initiative for Children runs a home for street children and a number of outreach programmes that help hundreds of vulnerable children in the Pune, India. It is dedicated to improving the lives and shaping the futures of these children by advancing educational opportunities, nurturing holistic development and building healthy, empowered communities.
In 2004, after graduating from MUWCI, American student Elizabeth Sholtys woke up one morning feeling resolved to open a home for street children in Pune some of whom she had grown to know. Together with six committed friends and classmates, she formed the first Board of Directors and within four months, the home had been named, “Ashraya Initiative for Children”. Ashraya, which means “hope,” “trust,” “shelter,” and “protection” in Hindi, became the clear choice as it embodied precisely what Liz and the team aspired to provide for the children. After over a year of developing, learning, house hunting, and research, Ashraya Initiative for Children opened its doors to its first children, Sanjay, Akash and Basraj closely followed by Geeta, in June 2005, and has grown from strength to strength ever since. The Ashraya Initiative for Children (AIC) embodies the UWC mission of using education as a force to unite people and has been reaching and positively impacting the lives of hundreds of vulnerable children across the Pune region for the last eight years
However, in the autumn of 2012, supporters of AIC received the news that without a large fundraising drive, the organisation would have to begin the process of closing down in the near future. And so, UWC graduates, friends, family, and supporters of AIC from all over the world joined forces, and ‘ran’ to India. This was our chance to help AIC as an embodiment of so many UWC values we all still believe in, by running (walking, jogging, skipping, biking) the distance between London (the home of the UWC HQ) and Pune (the home of AIC), a mere 9046 kilometres.
Each person involved embarked on their own fundraising challenge setting their own independent target of how far they would go, over how long, and where. Together, over time, our individual totals accumulated and the journey to India progressed. As some people’s challenges ended, other’s started and over 2013 we covered the distance. It took us a few more months than we were expecting – excuses included travel, broken bones, and the vagaries of modern life. In the process we had photos of runners in the Zimbabwean bush, on treadmills in New Zealand, in scenic shots of San Francisco, completing many marathons, and videos of runners jogging through Paris (check out the gallery below). We had frequent updates on the facebook group including progress tracked on many a map. Unfortunately these were lost with the website, but I’m sure people can vouch for us. We even made it into a local Welsh newspaper!
And most importantly we made it! I cannot tell you exactly when we reached Pune and the children’s home, but reach them we did!! And in the process we raised a good couple of thousand dollars for AIC. Yippee!
So eventually, here we are saying a massive massive THANK YOU to everyone who supported us along the way and to everyone who took part in getting those kilometres ticked off.
We received the greatest news this week that two girls from AIC have been accepted at the Indian and German UWCs for this year! As the founder of AIC said – “we’ve come full circle”!
Follow AIC on Facebook here.
Photo Gallery and Videos
Linda and Alex – two amazing members of the team – set rewards for their supporters if they raised certain amounts of money. Some of these rewards were that they would film their runs around Paris…