Shri-Ram-a-thon, an annual 10 km walk event organised by the Shri Ram Mandir in Henderson raised a $43,442.60 on Sunday, February 3.

The annual walkathon event, which is in its third year, had the Friends of Fiji Health Foundation as the chosen charity this year (On earlier occassions, Shri-Ram-a-thon had generated support for charities like Starship Foundation)

The event had all the elements and activities planned for every age group of people. Children took their time playing in the bouncing castle and participating in the kids’ activities such as face painting, and drawing, marble and spoon race, sack race, relay race etc.

The youth present at the event participated in the men’s friendly football tournament, tug-of-war, women participated in the penalty shooting game, volleyball, and the senior citizens participated in the lawn bowls game that has acquired massive popularity amongst them in the West of Auckland. The seniors also played ball and bucket games.

Fundraising, only one of the multitudes of goals

Pravin Kumar, the Managing Trustee of Shri Ram Mandir Charitable Trust, speaking with The Indian Weekender, affirmed that fundraising was just of many goals that the event had, including engaging with the community and enhancing diversity and multiculturalism.

“The aim of the event, besides fundraising, was to promote multiculturalism, healthy lifestyle, get diverse community for one charitable purpose and have a good family fun day,” Mr Kumar said.

The walkathon raised the fund; final count said 43,442.60 that is a massive figure as compared to the funds raised in the past.

Massive public support

More than 2000 people from different parts of Auckland attended the event - some for the walk, some for the carnival fun-family day out, and the others for participating in different competitive sports and recreational activities.

Shri Ramathon in the past has been just a walk event culminating into a fundraising drive and speech sessions with the participants. This year, the organisers with the support from the Sports Waitakere, Council and Friends of Fiji Health Foundation who arranged free medical checkup for the attendees at the event.

The event started with the gathering of the walkathon participants at Shri Ram Mandir on 11 Brick Street, Henderson at 8 a.m. followed by a prayer attended by National List MP from Te Atatu,  Alfred Ngaro and breakfast for the participants.

By 9 a.m., the walkathon started with hundreds of enthusiastic men, women and children clad in different sports outfits walking proudly for a cause towards their destination Henderson Park. The walkers took a break at 359 Henderson Valley Road Ashram.

The walkers received a warm welcome from other community members, who, though not particpating in the walk, were attending the event with the family and friends, through the day.

The walkers then rested and engaged in several activities planned for their starting with seven-a-side football matches with five teams on each side of Pool A & B.

The attendees cheered for their football teams named after Fiji districts and cities such as  Rakiraki, Tavua, Ba, Lautoka, Nadi, Nadroga, Suva, Nasinu, Rewa, and Labasa.

Spirit of youth appreciated

The organsiers were clearly excited with the spirited response from the community, as reflected in both, the number of particpants and supporters turning out for the event and the support generated for the chosen charity organsiation – Friends of Fiji Health Foundation.

The Friends of Fiji Health Foundation in the meantime conducted several medical checkups for the people, especially the seniors and women at their stall on Henderson Park.

“I really commend the participating spirit of the youth, the children, the women and the seniors who contributed to this cause in every manner suitable to them. The most important thing to note here is that they gave their physical presence at the event and made the event a massive success.

“The organising team of the event headed by project manager Mahendra Sharma accessed every avenue possible to get the contribution of the whole community to the big event- either through a financial contribution, by arranging food, snacks, water, shade, games, or even just showing up at the event,” Mr Kumar further added.

About the chosen charity - Friends of Fiji Health Foundation

The Friends of Fiji Health Foundation was formed by former Fiji medical professionals who now live in New Zealand and work in the health sector. They take different missions to Fiji to provide specialist medical services and perform specialist surgeries not currently available in Fiji. They also train local staff during their missions and work collaboratively with the local government and medical professionals in Fiji. Some of their achievements to date include more than 26 major medical and surgical missions treating more than 2,500 patients.

The Foundation has conducted more than 25 advanced skills training/educational workshops and donating more than NZ $3m worth of advanced medical equipment and supplies. The Mission is commissioning two operating theatres in Lautoka Hospital and assisting with safer surgeries, laparoscopy anaesthetic equipment in Labasa.

More about the event

The event culminated with the prize giving ceremony at the park that was attended by Te Atatu MP and Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Phil Twyford and Auckland Councillor representing Waitakere, Linda Cooper. The cheque was presented to the representatives of the Friends of Fiji Health Foundation Trustees at the event.