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Go the extra mile

Aun Ngo

Mon May 24 2010

The team

ON MAY 1, a group of us accomplished the remarkable feat of walking 50km through the course of the Dandenong mountains. We completed this walk as participants of the second ever Go the Extra Mile event.

The team, with Meld columnist Kelvin Tay pictured far left, pushed past steep hills and slippery ground to reach the finish line as night fell.

The team, with Meld columnist Kelvin Tay pictured far left, pushed past steep hills and slippery ground to reach the finish line as night fell.

I did this walk with a team called the “KEWties” and we pushed ourselves well and beyond our physical limits to complete the long and arduous journey – through impossible slopes and slippery ground to reach the finish line when night fell.

Inaugurated in 2009, this year’s event attracted more than 300 walkers. Funds raised from this event will go to Bridge of Hope, a children’s outreach programme that carries the mission to see the Dalit children in India set free from the poverty cycle.

This year’s walk was held on a beautiful autumn morning and the walkers enjoyed dry and sunny weather for most part of the day. For many of us, it was a memorable experience, trekking through the natural trails of the Dandenongs and enjoying the beautiful and scenic view.

As complex as the issue of poverty is, I am grateful that I had an opportunity to participate in this event. Completing a walk of this distance may not entirely resolve the socio-economic issues pervading India (or any country for that matter), nor would it thoroughly educate us of the affliction faced by the Dalit children. For the majority of us from the middle-class group, it can be extremely difficult to put ourselves in the shoes of these children and to imagine and experience the suffering that they endure daily.

Sometimes, there are certain limitations to charity events and fundraisers that can be frustrating. More often than not, there is a detachment that forms a big gap between “us and them”, the ones who give and the ones who receive. As I walked along the trails, there are moments where I wish I could clearly see every step of mine making a tangible difference through the lens of a child across the continent. There and then, I was reminded of how small and removed I was from the global issues that we face in our generation.

At the very least, this exceptional event has given me and the other walkers an opportunity to hear and learn of the suffering and injustice that occurs beyond our borders – and to do so by walking a gruelling 50km.

For each of us who are thinking of ways to do something meaningful to help alleviate the problem poverty across the world, you can take that small step today. You could go the extra mile for someone. With whatever capacity that you have, you will find that helping the poor could be as simple as a walk in the park.