The ongoing battle to end inequality in India took a devastating hit with the second wave of COVID-19. Many marginalised citizens are still recovering from the aftershocks of the pandemic and are struggling to find their way back into the employment stream, access affordable healthcare for their families and educate their children across a pervasive digital divide.
Add to this, gender and caste based violence and victimisation of the vulnerable, and you have a grim picture. In such a bleak scenario, Oxfam India has been consistently working to alleviate the suffering of the forgotten and the invisibilized. This year’s Oxfam Trailwalker, like its previous edition, was an attempt to engage conscientious citizens in a massive fund-raising effort for those who not only are struggling with inequality but also have been hit most severely by the pandemic. The theme of the virtual walkathon was #WalkInMyShoes and the call for empathy was answered by various age groups.
Here is an overview of some of the change makers who walked the distance to empower the less privileged:
This 17-year-old, Gurugram-based student walked for over 25 km in 10 days for the very first time and it is an experience that he would like to repeat in the future as well. He says, “I was so inspired by the premise behind this walkathon that I decided to also start my own fundraiser of Rs. 10,000. Oxfam gave me an opportunity to do something constructive and not just feel bad at the plight of the marginalised Indians who are victims of discrimination for most of their life. Just because I am a child, doesn’t mean I should be oblivious to the suffering of others and so it feels great to run for a good cause and to help my community.”
Carolyn is a Mumbai-based mother of two, an entrepreneur, food blogger and a voice over artist. As an Oxfam Trailwalker, she pushed herself to complete 25 km in 10 days. Says she, “The Oxfam Trailwalker was just the push I needed to be consistent with my exercise routine. I’ve always walked daily, but rarely did I measure the distance. When I heard about this Oxfam campaign to walk for a better India, I jumped at the opportunity. I felt that if I was already a regular walker, why not add a sense of purpose to it and support such a wonderful cause? I’m an entrepreneur and multi-tasking mom and fitness isn’t at the top of my list. But if I could do it, so can you. This experience has shown me how exhilarating it can be to complete a goal, when every little step has gone towards helping someone. Let’s all walk in the shoes of all those who need to be lifted above inequality, and do our bit to make their lives brighter.”
Tarandeep Singh and Simran Singh
This Hyderabad-based, young couple participated in the 50 km walkathon spread over 10 days in both the September and October Trailwalker slots, despite the fact that they are busy professionals. Tarandeep works for a corporate company and Simran works with Wellness Decoded while completing her Masters of Science in Human Nutrition.
Simran says, “Taran had told me a lot of stories about the Oxfam Trailwalker he had once attended in Bangalore. He would talk about how fun it was to be a part of a participating team. I too wanted to experience the excitement of setting a goal and reaching it and thanks to Oxfam, I was able to do it, although virtually. The cherry on the cake was supporting a good cause and covering 50 km in 10 days with my husband.”
Tarandeep adds, “This was my third Trailwalker challenge. Last year, I walked solo and virtually covered 100 km in 10 days. This time, it was a great experience walking with my wife. I hope everyone will in the future join this amazing Trailwalker journey to support a good cause.”
A team from HPCL completed 100km in just a day!
Gajanan Hedaoo, Lt Col Sandesh Agarwal, KK Madhoosudan Nair and Giriraj Prasad Meena are employees of HPCL who notched up the challenge to #WalkInMyShoes by completing 100km within 24 hours! The desire to improve their fitness and support Oxfam India’s cause was their motivation to participate in the challenge. Based out of Mumbai, the team missed the thrill of the main event the most and thus, they came together in high spirits to walk for ones who live on the margins. The cause of ending poverty, empowering women and supporting education is very close to their hearts and they made sure to do their bit and give back to society.