Thanks DK Studio for a gym workout in India
This is a quick word of "thanks" to all the members of my gym 'DK Studio' in Coogee, who throw their used and unwanted sneakers into the box at the studio. I have just returned from India and I must share with you the story of your shoes.
Your old sneakers have put a huge smile of the face of many kids and teenagers! These kids have absolutely nothing. The poverty they endure is heartbreaking. They live in the local slums and remote jungle villages where life is incredibly tough. Many of these kids do not have shoes to wear, let alone comfy sneakers. After lugging two huge bags full of sneakers to India (via Africa) I was able to personally deliver them to some kids. I wish you had have been there to see the look of surprise, delight and happiness on their faces.
Aman (pictured) is a young man who we have supported for a couple of years. He started life with a sad story that now has a very happy ending. He was born with a condition called .... which basically means he had an external bladder. His trousers were always wet, he could not control his bladder. He was teased and in a poor way with constant infections and bad skin conditions. Last year he had surgery, and we supported the payment of his ongoing treatment and rehab. He had to travel once a month, 10 hours each way by train to Delhi to get this help. Aman is recovering well and he now leads a normal life with the prospect of ultimately getting a job. Last week he participated in a leadership seminar that I ran for local kids, and he is really growing in confidence as a leader who influences his mates. Last week was the first time in Aman's life that he ever has worn a pair of enclosed shoes.
A few other amazing things to share with you... * The kids also have never had socks, so I bought some for them too. * No-one in this town has a shoe size over a 9. We are still looking for homes for people with big feet. There are some kids whose sneakers are too big for them, but there was no way they were letting go of them! * I also managed to set up a youth program with a guy who owns a gym in town. He is going to give free membership to at risk teenage boys who tend to get caught up in alcohol and drugs by about age 14 (if not earlier). We teaching these about personal goal setting. It's incredibly exciting to empower these kids who a sense of hope for the future.
Over the past 2 years my wife Rowena and I have set up 5 "schools" where now approximately 200 kids attend for 2 hours, 6 days a week. Our charity is able to employ a sports coach to help these kids enjoy games, improve their fitness and to learn through this new experience. We also feed these kids a healthy meal each day. I am super thankful for the support of my awesome gym 'DK Studio' at Coogee and Bondi, that they have been part of this story.
When your shoes travel to India, not only have they been faithful in helping you to work-out, they are now making a difference in a young person's life. My guess is that these kids will hold on to them for a lot longer than you did!
I will be heading back to India in 2017, so if you have old sneakers sized 9 or smaller, please pass them on.