Running for Toilets: Interview with Chin Engineer in the UK
26 September 2011 – [CG: Chin graduate civil engineer Van Cung Lian took part in a half-marathon of The Great North Run 2011 on 18 September to raise fund for Bualrawn middle school toilet facilities in Falam town, Chin State, Burma.
In the interview with Chinland Guardian, Van Cung Lian, aka Anau, talked about his experience in the most iconic event, the motivation behind the run and how it works and more.]
Chinland Guardian: Congratulations! You did run for the half-marathon. How did it go?
Van Cung Lian: By the grace of God, I did it in 1:53:54. I am a little bit frustrated mainly because I felt I could have done it faster. I couldn’t really run with my own pace because it was too crowded at the start and during the second half of the run. But my main goal was to finish under 2 hours and I even set my own record beating my last year’s achievement by 2seconds. This time I ran with passion and massive support behind me so it felt really good and I really did enjoy it.
Chinland Guardian: What can you tell us about more?
Van Cung Lian: Normally I take part in these events for my own achievements but I must admit I always admire people who took these challenges for good causes. I was afraid to take this challenge in the past mainly because I am afraid to ask around people for sponsor although it is for a good cause.
But this time when I heard and saw photos of my old school not having proper toilets and lacking in sanitation, I felt I could do something about it. I remember my time in that school, every one had to deal with the ‘uncomfortable’ situation on a daily basis. There were toilets but you just don’t want to go there. At first, I had a thought that even if I could just raise £5, a broom could be bought for them to clean and hopefully that would make the difference.
Chinland Guardian: How much was your target and did you actually manage to get it?
Van Cung Lian: I set my target to £505 which I thought was overly ambitious. Previously, I did raise money for The Princess Trust in 2009, ending up with just £60 and to tell the truth, half of the amount was from my own pocket. However this time round, letting all my friends know about the issue, I tried to raise with passion and desire. The support and the sponsorship I get was amazing.
So far, I have raised £505 and more to come from Norway, Australia, Singapore and USA. My initial idea was only to ask my friends in the UK but with the help of media coverage by the Chinland Guardian, Chinland Today, Chin World Media, and Gloal Falam Youth Organization (GFYO), it has become a global fundraising event for me.
Chinland Guardian: How does this kind of fundraising work?
Van Cung Lian: The idea is very simple. You take part in a difficult challenge, for instance, running, climbing, cycling and in return your friends, family and colleagues sponsor you. In theory, the more difficult challenge you take, the more money you raise. However, this idea of “taking a challenge for a good cause” is not well known within the Chin Community.
Chinland Guardian: It will be interesting to know more about why you decided to run for toilet renovation rather than other issues?
Van Cung Lian: Sure. There is much to do in Chinland and there are many things that we can’t do on our own. But this time I felt I could make a difference. I felt if I could raise money for this and with the help of local people, this is achievable. My old school has already got some decent facilities, however they don’t have a proper sanitation. Therefore I try to fill the gap hoping that I can make a difference. I think we often fail to acknowledge that sanitation is one of the basic human needs.
Chinland Guardian: What will happen next with the fund?
Van Cung Lian: I am still in the process of collecting the fund at the moment. I am also waiting for an assessment report and cost estimation from GFYO member in Falam, Chin State, Burma. After I get the report, I will have a clear picture of how much is needed for the project. And I am intending to do for other schools if I have spare fund. Throughout implementation, I will work closely with GFYO and will personally get involved in the whole process from planning to completion. I will post updates and situation on my facebook so people know their donations make a difference to Falam.
Chinland Guardian: Have you got anything to say to the people regarding the event and the cause?
Van Cung Lian: Many thanks to everyone who supports me with prayers and donations. I believe Chin people become more familiar with the ideas about “taking a challenge for a good cause” from this event and I hope we can do much better in the future. I also hope that Chins across the globe do the same – taking challenges for a good cause and doing something what we can for our Chinland.
Chinland Guardian: Many thanks for speaking to us.
Van Cung Lian: Thank you for your help. Without the help from Chinland Guardian, I wouldn’t have hit my target.
Interview by Van Biak Thang