Two years ago, a dream became reality. There are so many variables that contributed to it, but at the end of the day, I would never have heard of Ladakh if not for my friend and former colleague Angela Ruggiero. Once her random email about Ladakh came through, my life instantly changed, and on the shoulders of warm-hearted Americans & Canadians (in alphabetical order), I was able to begin a project that would redefine how I viewew my place on this planet.
Ladakh is a remote region in the Himalayas in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. Ladakhis are most similar to Tibetans, in the same way that Anglophile Canadians are most similar to Americans. They have their own social identity, their own variations on the language, but to an untrained eye, they are interchangeable. Ladakh is a predominantly Buddhist region, in a predominantly Muslim state, in a predominantly Hindu country, sandwiched between two disputed borders, with China (Tibet) & Pakistan (Kashmir). It’s a region that has been conquered and attacked many times over the past millennia. Needless to say that Ladakh is a unique region. It leaves an impression on everyone that goes there, in an almost mystical way. It’s like Ladakh is in a time capsule from a thousand years ago, even with many of the things we have in our modern lives.
Through my experiences teaching ice hockey in Heilongjiang Province in Northern China & in Ladakh, I got to see how effective sports (namely hockey) can be in improving the quality of life for people who deal with more hardships than we do. I spent a month teaching hockey in Ladakh, playing with children, and providing them with tools to further their potential in a region and country that seem to limit so many.
The trip to Ladakh was motivated by the desire to impart values that we have come to identify as human beings as being crucial to our success: honesty, accountability, team-work & toughness (mental & physical).
As a result of the work that was started, I was honored to become the national coach of India’s first ice hockey team, and got to represent India in the International Ice Hockey Federation’s (IIHF) Annual Conference. What started as a humble volunteer trip quickly ballooned into something bigger, and the platform to use hockey as a means to make a difference in Ladakhi’s lives spurred The Hockey Foundation.
A few weeks ago, we debuted a new logo (graphic design by Kevin Sterling) that communicates so much of what The Hockey Foundation is about: using the ideals of hockey to foster cultural understanding and to communicate and instill virtues (identified above) that motivate change in the way people live their lives. This pursuit contributes to a better life for us all, and is recognized by the UN & USA as an effective charitable means to attain this end.
For this upcoming Winter, we are proud to introduce Goal0 as a sponsor. Goal0 provides portable solar power for every day situations as well as massive expeditions. They are providing some solar panels & batteries to be delivered to SECMOL, a local alternative school that is providing Ladakhi children of all religions with an opportunity to get a real education and broaden their horizons. They have also developed very promising young hockey players!
In less than a month, the next excursion to Ladakh begins. The work started two years ago will be continued, with many bags of equipment donated by people from around North America, as well as the solar power products provided by Goal0. This is going to be a big expense to drag to the other side of the planet, and your support is greatly needed to make this possible. Space to store the equipment is running low, and the desire to help these children is strong.
There are so many factors affecting the lives of Ladakhis, but without a doubt, there’s a lot of hardship. The region was hit by the flooding of the Indus/Sindhu River that devastated Pakistan. The town I spent weeks training the Indian Ice Hockey Team was hit the hardest. Hundreds of people died. Even without this tragedy, there are many difficulties to overcome. I’ll tell you all about that in my next post.
For now, please consider donating. Your support will make a big difference, no matter the size of the contribution.
-Adam Sherlip, Executive Director