A little over three months ago, when RunSociety was still in its infancy, we graced our first “cause” at Running Lab (Velocity@Novena Square). It was called Project Love Sneaker. Project Love Sneaker was a one-month drive organised by Running Lab in collaboration with the Singapore office of Jet Airways (India’s premier airline) to encourage the donation of used sneakers in exchange for gift vouchers. Over 1,000 pairs were collected at the end of October 2011. The intended recipients: Himalayan porters.
Some 100 porters in East Himalaya were the recent proud, happy recipients of pre-loved sports shoes, delivered by Jet Airways in December through a group of students from the Singapore Management University (SMU) to those based in the popular Sandakphu trek on the Singalila ridge. The ridge forms the line between Nepal and East Himalaya, running south of the Khangchendzonga, offering spectacular views of the highest mountains of the world.
Says Jayne Low, Regional Sales & Marketing Manager, Jet Airways, “We are very pleased that our combined efforts with Running Lab, Help Tourism and the SMU students have helped to improve the working conditions of these porters in the rural areas of India. This serves to enhance our eco-adventures mission in incorporating the three core objectives of social responsibility, environmental policy and economic sustainability.”
The SMU students were at Neora Valley in the Darjeeling Hills to initiate capacity building in rural tourism and the education of children. They brought the first batch of sneakers from Project Love Sneaker, which were handed over to the Singalila Guide and Porter Association and the Singalila Landrover Association. News of this noble deed spread far and wide across East Himalaya; even ‘barefoot’ service providers in the lesser known trek routes have managed to contact Jet Airways’ local partner in India, the Help Tourism field team, to organise a similar support for them. Although individual tourists have left some of their clothing or shoes with their porters before, this was the first such organised effort of its kind.
To those who answered the call with your shoes, we certainly hope this piece of news brings delight to your active souls. Well done runners!