Putting Shoes on Children’s Feet: Running with Mira Rai in Sano Dumma

 

A little over a month ago we were contacted with a special request to help purchase shoes for children in Mira Rai’s home village of Sano Dumma  in a remote part of eastern Nepal.  Many of the children there wear plastic sandals, flip flops, or go barefoot. The board weighed the proposal and thanks to your donations we were able to help. The total funding for purchasing shoes for children in the village was $450 USD and plans are now underway  to make the children’s race (and the shoes)  self-sustaining in the coming years.

Below is a letter from Mara Larson who helped Mira with the proposal and organizing the event in conjunction with Trail Running Nepal. And if you haven’t heard about Mira Rai (or even if you have), please consider watching the short film ‘Mira’ on Vimeo, not only will you be inspired, but “100% of net proceeds from movie sales go to funding the screening of this film across Nepal in remote places using mobile cinemas & for girls who would potentially be inspired by watching Mira’s film.”

Thanks for helping make this possible,

-Seth

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October 29th, 2017

Dear Wide Open Vistas

This season you made a stunning impact in eastern Nepal. We came to you, asking first for a donation of about a dozen pairs of shoes, in hopes of encouraging more local village  kids to come out for a small village race that started up last year.

That first race, in 2015, drew 15 kids and a mix of curiosity and interest in the local village, in the hidden foothills of far east Nepal. This year, with the involvement of a very important Nepali runner, Mira Rai, whose story we’ll tell you about below, we hoped to double that number.

Sittting on my couch in Chamonix, France this summer, recovering from a knee surgery, Mira and I hunted around for some Nepali made shoes. We found them.  And together, wrote up the proposal to WOV, and held our breath that we’d be able to spur on the kids in Mira’s home village with this small surprise.

We explained to WOV a little bit about Mira Rai’s story: growing up in remote eastern Nepal in the foothills of Mt. Makalu, she spent her childhood carrying loads of rice and water up the hillsides to her village home. She yearned for more. At 13 she left home in pursuit of bigger dreams, and joined the revolutionary army. It’s an awe inspiring story in any corner of the world, but in a country where village girls fight even for the privilege of attending school, Mira’s was already an exceptional story. And then, she discovered running. You can easily fill in the details reading the news in the major press these days, but Mira rocketed onto the mountain running scene and in no time rose to the top of the female runners, not just in Nepal but across the world.

And humblingly, instead of focusing on building a life away from Nepal, and enjoying the comforts of an easier world, she is already turning her focus to giving back. So, that day on the couch, recovering from a knee surgery, this is what Mira said to me, “Sister, I want to make a race for my village. Can you help me?

We set out to make this dream a reality. We got Mira’s village school involved. Got the race into the local Nepali radio stations playing in the eastern foothills. Worked on designing race numbers, prizes, medals, and banners with the help of Mira’s friends and sponsors across Europe and back home.

And then, we asked WOV for a donation of 15 pairs of shoes.

Only WOV said no.

They didn’t accept our initial funding proposal. We estimated we might double the numbers of kids in the race this year, to 30, and asked for fifteen hoping we could slowly build the race and then seek more funding as our presence grew.

Wide Open Vistas believed in us and our dream even more than we imagined. They responded that they would fund shoes for everyone.

There really aren’t many more words to explain what this meant. The best for us, is to show you the photos.

On the day we had a total of 125 participants. Mira, her two brothers who came back home for the holiday week, and two friends set about course marking. The village elders from all the surrounding villages came out to give medals and speeches at the finish. The girls regrouped to a one of the school classrooms, where we started the race, to watch Mira and I show them how to thread and tie their new shoelaces.

And then waves of kids took off for the 10k and 4k race contouring around the village hillside, and for the 10k runners up and along the raincloud ridge line. So to WOV we say namaste and thank you. The race exceeded all our craziest hopes. The enthusiasm and support from the village and the kids was both humbling and exciting. The village and all of us organizers are amazed at what we you helped us to deliver.

Next year, we’re adding on an additional longer race. And we’re combining this with a trek in for friends and family who might like to see these remote villages and finish with cheering on our local runners, or even joining in. We’ll keep you posted. And in the meantime, much gratitude from me, Mira, and the community of Sano Dumma.

 

Mara Larson

Run the Himalaya

info@runthehimalaya.com