I’m not going to say that it was smooth sailing, but all of the donated equipment arrived in India! Nothing had been damaged or disappeared. It was a journey that saw the equipment collected across Saskatchewan (and Prince Edward Island), packed in Regina and shipped via air to New Delhi, India. In Delhi, the equipment must have needed a rest as it was stuck in customs for a couple weeks. On January 12th, the equipment was flown from Delhi to Leh and delivered to the SECMOL campus.
There were always going to be some doubts of the value of raising funds to ship hockey equipment from Canada to northern India. However, after watching the kids skate for 5 to 7 hours a day, marveling at their ability and dedication to maintain their ice surface, learning about the barriers the entire region had in finding equipment and seeing the looks on their faces when it arrived, I had absolutely no reservations about the value of the project.
Here is a little perspective for you. These kids were armed with only brooms and buckets of water to maintain an ice surface that they made from scratch on a dirt pad. I was told with great pride that the rink was ‘only one meter short of Olympic sized ice’. That is a HUGE outdoor rink. The ‘manbonis’ and ‘womanbonis’ would take turns in groups flooding the ice in the evenings. At the beginning stages of building the rink, they had three shifts through the night! Don’t forget, most nights would be around -20 degrees Celsius. That is not exactly an ideal temperature to be dealing with buckets of ice cold water. The first time you see them in action, you just kind of sit back in awe as they sing and dance while flooding the ice. It truly is something you have to see to believe.
The equipment arrived in Leh after being repackaged in Delhi into a number of smaller white bags. We loaded the bags into the back of a truck to make the final 17km journey to the SECMOL campus.
When it arrived, the students unloaded the bags from the back of the truck and took them to a separate room to unpack.
Once they started opening the bags, people started to crowd around. I’m not sure if they really knew what to think.
After they started to see the equipment, there was a great sense of excitement in the air. I think they were in a bit of disbelief. One of the staff members from SECMOL said to me that he had never even seen 100 hockey sticks before.
All in all, I was incredibly happy with how the project went. The equipment was received by SECMOL in time for them to use it this year, which was the goal. SECMOL’s relationship with a number of villages and communities means that the equipment will enable a number of children and youth to use the equipment and enjoy skating for years to come.
Documentary filmmaker Viktor Pesenti took the majority of the preceding photos. He is currently working on a short film about our Hockey in the Himalayas project. Stay tuned as we are really excited to share it with everyone who supported our project.
Thanks again to everyone who donated and made this project possible.