By BHARAT AVALANI
My newfound friend Datin Veronica Selvanayagy invited me on the eve of Wesak Day to a charity event that her husband Datuk Dr Arunan Selvaraj had organised.
Her text invitation to me was:
“My husband took 4 mentally challenged children from Selangor Mental Health Association to climb Mount Kinabalu on April 25, and this event is to celebrate the successful completion of the climb.”
Personally, I have attended many a charity event but this particular one will forever be etched in my heart and memory.
Summit of hope
The Puncak Harapan (translated as ‘Hope Peak’ in English) project was a trek to Mount Kinabalu and aimed to aid the Selangor and Federal Territory Association for the Mentally Handicapped (SAMH). SAMH is a non-profit charitable organisation established in 1964, serving approximately 340 mentally challenged children and adults, ranging from the tender ages of three to matured 50-year-olds.
The project was executed by the Rainbow team, which encompassed of 14 enthusiastic climbers, including the participation of four students and two teachers from the SAMH, led by Dr Arunan.
The larger purpose was to fulfil the dream of the four boys who have longed to climb Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, the highest mountain in the Malay Archipelago.
Lessons on true grit
The story of Siah Juan Kit, a spastic, is a lesson in determination and perseverance. The climb was not easy for Siah because of his physical condition.
Siah would lose his balance and fall every 10–15 steps because of the uneven terrain. He was bruised physically but none of that quenched his inner spirit. Rather, he was happy each time he completed a step or when he got up after a fall.
At one time, it was raining at Layang Layang camp and the trail became very slippery. Siah could not pull the rope with his left hand. Cikgu Nazrin, one of the SAMH teachers, had to tell him the hard truth to abandon the climb at the fourth station. In tears, Siah reluctantly made the descent to the second station with some members of the team and guides.
His sadness and disappointment touched the hearts of the rangers, the guides and the Bomba brigade, i.e. the fire fighters who were waiting as Siah descended.
Siah was headstrong and determined to finish the climb, no matter what it takes. After a time of resting, Siah climbed up again from the second station to the sixth station.
Guess what? Siah managed to reach Laban Rata at 10:39 pm! That’s about four hours later than it usually takes.
Watch this video chronicling the journey:
Something for you to ponder
Climbing a mountain in itself is a huge challenge, but helping four mentally challenged and specially-abled students to fulfil their dream by guiding, training and overcoming obstacles along the way, in my humble opinion, is a climb to nobility and greatness.
At work, have you helped someone to overcome their limitations and unleash their potential? Have you experienced joy when someone you helped succeeds?