By C. Y. Lee
PARTICIPANTS of the Nalanda Walkathon 2014 could have stayed within the comfort of their homes but chose to brave the morning drizzle and haze in support of education.
The campaign organiser, non-profit organisation Nalanda Buddhist Society, was hoping to raise RM250,000 to go towards providing education for the community through its initiatives.
More than 1,300 individuals gathered at a public field outside the Nalanda Centre for the 5km/7km “Walk for Education” and were flagged off by popular radio DJ Chan Fong.
The atmosphere was jovial and carnival-like despite the bad weather, with many of the participants happy for the chance to give back to the community.
Juliana Zulkafli, from Puchong, heard about the walkathon at a previous event and decided to sign up. “I try to be healthy and this allows me to give back to the community at the same time.” she said.
Funds raised during the event will go towards reaching out to communities through a holistic education model aimed at integral human development focused on knowledge, skills, values and culture.
The service-oriented organisation has been providing educational programmes such courses, training and tuition classes, free of charge to the to adults and children since 2003.
Its education centre, though impressive, is running out of space for the 350 students and is now being expanded to cater for more children.
Nalanda President Lee Kong Foo and the Free School Programme (NFS) chief co-ordinator Nandini Tan said the NFS was well received, inspiring both students and volunteer-teachers.
Tan recalled the experience with 11-year-old polio sufferer Leong Yao Wen, “I remember when we asked him on his birthday not long after he joined us, what was his wish, he simply replied ‘I wish to go to school’,” Tan said.
“What we get is given back to the community. The free school is a community service and we do not segregate classes based on religion.” Lee said.
The organisation also operates its Nalanda Education & Outreach centres in Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Sungai Petani.