Marking International Day Against Drug Abuse, Illicit Trafficking and in support of victims of torture, the Department of Health organised a marathon race on Monday, 26 June, to raise awareness about the ill effects of substance abuse. The marathon was organised in collaboration with the local settlement office, Mcleod Ganj and Kunphen, an NGO based in Mcleod Ganj.
At least 105 students from eight Tibetan schools including TCV Suja, Lower and Upper TCV, TCV Gopalpur and Chauntra, Sherab Gatsel Lobling, etc, and 22 members of the general public took part in the marathon race. The marathon began from the Tsuglagkhang crossroad in Mcleod Ganj to TCV vocational Centre via Forsyth Ganj and back to Tsuglagkhang crossroad via main square of Mcleod Ganj. The chief guest at the inaugural was Health Kalon Mr Choekyong Wangchuk. Other dignitaries at the inaugural include Settlement officer Mr Dawa Rinchen and Mr Dawa Tsering, Director of Kunphen.
The program began with a minute of silence in support of torture victims and survivors as it was also International day in support of victims of torture.
In his address, Health Kalon spoke about the health hazards and the resulting social
implication of substance abuse. He expressed alarm at the rate of youths affected by substance abuse in the Tibetan community and assured the health department’s unshakeable resolve to limit the menace.
“As compared to other communities, the Tibetan community in exile is relatively small and nascent. However, if we compare the ratio of youths affected by substance abuse with other communities, the ratio is worryingly high and in need of immediate attention,” he said.
He explained the successive Kashag’s strategy and efforts to resolve the menace of drug abuse and said that substance abuse is not something that the administration alone can eliminate. “Substance abuse is a social issue and therefore it needs widespread participation of the public in terms of raising awareness, providing guidance and counseling to the affected youths, etc to eliminate the problem,” he said.
“Substance abuse should be treated as any other malady. To eradicate any malady, the most important step is identifying the causes and adopting preventive measures. Similarly, in the case of substance abuse, societal efforts in adopting preventive measures is imperative. Therefore, this marathon is an effort towards that end, “ he explained.
Following the marathon race, Health Kalon presented souvenir prizes to the top five runners as well as the youngest and oldest participant of the marathon. The youngest participant was Woeser Jamyang from the US and the oldest partici
pant was Kelsang Topden, a resident of Mcleod Ganj, Dharamshala.
Winners in the boys’ race were: Tenzin Tsering, UTCV, Kalsang Dawa, TCV Suja, Sonam Dorjee, TCV Chauntra, Inju Mello, TCV Chauntra and Tenzin Jamphel, TCV Chauntra. Winners in girls’ race were Tenzin Lhamo, Sherab Gatsel Lobling, Passang Dolker, TCV Suja, Sonam Dickyi, Upper TCV, Tenzin Palmo, TCV Suja and Khando, Ex TCV Suja.
Both boys and girls ran same distance, starting from Tsuglagkhang to TCV Handicraft square and finished the race back at Tsuglakhang.