Ashok in one of his expeditions
Heart2Climb is a 220km trekking expedition by full-time students Ashik and Ashok, to raise funds for SPD. The expedition will take the duo over 5,400m into the Himalayan Mountain Range. In this e-mail interview, Ashok tells us more about the pair of mountaineering enthusiasts and the fundraiser that will push them to their physical and mental limits.
Q: Tell us more about yourselves
H2C: We have been friends for over seven years and in that time, we have established a very strong bond. We believe that we should challenge ourselves in the prime of our youth and create a difference in today’s society. In this unique campaign, we are able to combine our passion for adventure travel with our desire for giving back to society.
An insatiable curiosity about the world has spurred us to go on our travels and very often, take the off-beaten path. Our firm belief in independent travel is what sets us apart from the usual ‘touristy’ travellers. Time and again, we have proven that with just a little more hard work, it’s quite easy to co-ordinate your personal escapade, explore at your own pace and interact with individuals as a fellow human being, especially if one is seeking to experience culture.
Q: What made you decide on this climb and why is this considered a challenging one?
H2C: We wanted to prove that ordinary individuals like us can complete the Annapurna Circuit (220km) and conquer heights like Thorong La (5416m) without any guidance or assistance and at the same time create social impact.
Since it’s just the two of us who are trekking, and with no other assistance, navigation of the circuit is up to us. We will definitely require an accurate map to navigate the tough terrain. However, treks in Nepal are unique as routes may change due to landslides. Therefore much of the trek relies on our instinct and experience.
Q: Why did you choose SPD as the beneficiary?
H2C: We shortlisted a few potential beneficiaries which can be linked to trekking. After much deliberation, we found that people with disabilities have many challenges and may not have received sufficient opportunities to further their cause. To know more about them, we contacted SPD and arranged a meeting and were brought on a tour around the SPD Ability Centre. At SPD, we got to learn that there are many programmes and services that help and enable people with disabilities to become more independent. Like many others, if not for the visit, people with disabilities remain largely ‘invisible’ to the public eye.
The difficulties that people with disabilities face run parallel to our tough climb. Hence, by harnessing the power of social media, we wanted to create a campaign to highlight the clients of different disabilities in SPD, the challenges they face and what fellow Singaporeans can do to help them.
Q: You went a step further after the visit to interact directly with the beneficiaries. What was it like knowing more about the group of people you will be helping?
H2C: We had arranged to find out more about two trainees with disabilities at the Sheltered Workshop. When we got there, the first thing that we saw was that they were busy at their work, packing goods without showing any worry of their disabilities. Those individuals were working happily and cracking jokes with one another. Such sights are reminders to us on how to enjoy life as it comes, without being overly concerned by the environment we are in.
The experience of engaging with the trainees and listening to their stories made us realise how difficult it must be to be in their shoes. Simple tasks which many of us take for granted, such as walking, may be an arduous task for many of them, and hearing that made us appreciate what we have more.
It seems that we would learn and come to realisation about something new every time we interact with these individuals. This whole project is becoming an enriching experience indeed.
All funds raised will go towards helping people with disabilities through the various SPD programmes and services. Show your support by making a donation here from now till 20 May 2014.
We will be rooting for Ashik and Ashok when they make the climb on 23 May 2014. Read more about the expedition at http://www.heart2climb.com/.