Modesto, based in London, has committed to run 108 km for the school. Please help by sponsoring Modesto's running effort via this link, http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/108run. Read Modesto's story here. Some time ago some friends from the Druk White Lotus School UK project office and from Live to Love asked me to do something special to celebrate 10 years of the Druk White Lotus School.
I thought about organising a party, but I have always been rubbish at organising parties. At the time I was developing a regular running routine and came up with the idea of running once for each one of the ten years been celebrated, 10 runs.
Initially, I thought about running 10 kilometres each time. But 100 kilometres did not sound quite right. 10.8 kilometres per run, a total of 108 kilometres, sounded more appropriate, more sensitive. 108 is a number with significance. Ladakhis, like the other Buddhist ethnic groups living on both sides of the Himalayas, often carry with them a rosary made out of 108 beads which they use to count the prayers they endlessly recite. Although prayers are recited 108 times and not 100 times, 100 turns of the rosary count as 10,000 recitations and not 10,800. I have always viewed this as, so to speak, going the extra mile. So I decided to run 108 kilometres, instead of 100 kilometres, between the end of September and the New Year to celebrate 10 Years of the Druk White Lotus School¸ and, at the same time, raise funds and awareness.
The Druk White Lotus School is both an ambitious construction and educational project, and a very special place in a very harsh environment; a place sometimes at the capricious mercy of the elements, last year’s (hopefully rare) flash flood and mudslide, and the endless flux of change that life is.
Having been captivated by the place and the people, especially the children, I have acquired a minimal experiential understanding of why it is so important to help educate the Ladakhi children: to preserve their traditions and give them a cultural identity, and, most importantly, to provide them with an education that could make the difference between living in poverty as adults or not.
If you are still sceptical or unmoved, try imagining yourself as a 9 year old child living in a place where:
- winter lasts 6 months and temperatures as low as -20C are reached regularly,
- there is no central heating, just a stove where cow dung is burned
- there are no toilets, just dry latrines or nature
- some children, those from a nomadic family, may live and grow up in a tent; nomadic children may spend the winter living in a tent made out of yak hair
You may think that living in these conditions is living in poverty. Having briefly experienced this way of life, I am unsure if I would describe it as poverty. Poverty is living in the slums of Delhi or Mumbai. By giving these children a good education, we are laying the foundations that hopefully will keep them away from the slums and will help them preserve their heritage.
If you cannot sponsor me, please help by spreading the word.