You serve God by loving and serving fellow-beings and humanity.
Devotees of Shri Ram Mandir (Henderson, West Auckland) walked their talk in serving the community and raising funds for St John through Ram-A-Thon on February 4, 2018.
The gift of nice fine weather was nothing short of a miracle. Despite forecast of stormy weather, the day dawned into a beautiful morning.
We assembled at Ram Mandir and were transported by Ritchies Bus to the starting point- Winter Gardens at Auckland Domain.
Unbeknown to many, we had amongst us an 84-year-old man who started the march.
This 20 km walk served many objectives, among which was bringing together families, friends and communities.
The First Stage
The Co-Op Taxis had sponsored this point and its Chairman Jacob Patel handed over a donation. Earlier, Shri Ram Mandir Charitable Trust Managing Trustee Pravin Kumar welcomed the volunteers followed by appreciation by St John Representative Dennis Dufty. Energised by tea and refreshments, we were ready for the first stage of 5.3 km walk from Auckland Domain to Western Springs.
This stage took us to the CBD, along Upper Queen Street. We went by Auckland hospital, in the distant shadows of the Sky Tower, over Grafton Bridge and through K Road, down Great North Road, through Central Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn arrived at Western Springs, the first pit stop.
But the challenge was the 20 km of contrasting, breath-taking views of Auckland.
Sports and Recreation
Sport Waitakere kept senior citizens busy at Western Springs with their innovative sports and recreation activities. The Cooperative Bank, one of the Sponsors, provided healthy food snacks and drinks. The Bank’s Regional Manager (Auckland) Alice Cappleman and Labour List MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan addressed the walkers, extolling the virtues of helping others.
After a photo session, the walkers went past the Western Spring Lake through the picturesque Western Springs Park, crossing the motorway overbridge, onto the cycle tract parallel to Motorway 16. This is a shared path between walkers and cyclists, and was the longest stretch of the walk, comprising 8.3 km. This was tough one, with a mixture of sea-view, traffic noise and the beautiful Waitakere Ranges on the horizon.
Housing and Transport Minister and Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford welcomed the walkers at McCormick Greens in Te Atatu South, near Motorway 16. This pit stop was sponsored by Kumar Guru of Austar Reality (LJ Hooker).
The walk from McCormick Reserve to Tui Glen was pleasant – including a residential area, sneaking under the Central Park Drive Bridge and walking through International Gardens. It was here that the youngest walker, Rania Roma Chand, less than six years of age, joined the walkers with her mother.
The Tui Glen pit stop was sponsored by AB International and Henderson-Massey Local Board Chair Shane Henderson was present to address the walkers, while Mr Twyford had joined the walkers from McCormick pit stop.
Health & Safety
Health and safety was among the prime concerns of the organisers.
Volunteer Doctors Ajay and Kulvant Singh kept close eyes on the walkers throughout the walk as St John vehicles accompanied them all the way.
Arriving at the final stop outside Shri Ram Mandir on Brick Street, we had a welcoming party consisting of students from Waitakere Hindi School and musicians from the Temple with drums and cymbals to lead us inside the Temple where the formal part of the programme was held.
The following were honoured at the event: Master Shiu Charan (Highest Individual Collector); Lotus Foreign Exchange (Highest Corporate Collector); Master Shiu Charan, Daughter-in-Law Lucretia Charan and granddaughter Jayshree Anita Charan (Family Generational, representing three generations); Sanjay, Nandini, Vivek and Vishal Kumar (Family- Highest Number); Falgun and Sangita Shah, Amrit Bhai and Amba Ben and Suman Sharma and Kajal Kumar (Families Completing Full Walk); Rania Roma Chand (Youngest Participants -5 years 9 months); Gangi Taunk (The Oldest Participant-84 years).
The real winners were the walkers who were rewarded for supporting St John, and of course Saint John who received a cheque for $15, 522 as donation money.
This event conveyed a message for other religious organisations to combine spirituality with community engagement and helping those who help others.
- Rania Roma Chand (Youngest Walker), daughter of Ravi and Ragni Singh Chand being honoured by Waitemata District Police Ethnic Community Relations Officer and Ram-A-Thon Committee Member Mandeep Kaur, watched by grandfather Thakur Ranjit Singh
- Gangi Taunk being recognised by St Johns Regional Manager (Auckland) Dennis Dufty as the Oldest walker.
- Shri Ram Mandir Charitable Trust Trustee Ravend Kishore (second from right) presenting a cheque for $15,522.40 to St John Regional Manager (Auckland) Dennis Dufty. Also in the picture are Managing Trustee Pravin Kumar, Trustee Salend Kumar.