[top photo: Mohamed Adnan Osman (in cowboy hat) participates in marathons to help charity.]
By Joleen Lunjew
Nothing is impossible for retired teacher Mohamed Adnan Osman. He may be 67, but the spunky veteran is still running marathons, climbing mountains, going on expeditions and cycling cross-country.
"Many ask me why I do what I do. For me, it's a test of endurance and seeing how far I can go. I started living life after I quit smoking (after 27 years). Age should never be a deterrent, as long as you have the right kind of spirit," says Adnan.
Adnan always makes it a point to engage with the locals, especially the children, on his travels.
"I used to trek the Himalayas in Nepal as far back as 10 years ago. While I was sightseeing, a monk approached me and asked me if I was interested in visiting an orphanage in Kathmandu that cared for the children of Maoist rebels killed during the insurgence.
"These children had no parents and have to look after themselves. They sat around me as I taught them basic English, read to them and shared with them stories of my travels and Malaysia. The monks would translate difficult parts for the children.
"I was so touched by them that I kept coming back for three years, taking along whatever pencils and books I could carry. I couldn't bring many items to give away as I travelled solo and light, but I encouraged fellow travellers to contribute whatever they could. I felt that even if I could not give goods, I could at least share my time and experience with them," he recalls.
Adnan's journeys have been full of surprises.
Mohamed Adnan Osman with an Orang Asli family.
"I engage with the locals quite a lot and was very amused to meet a lady who greeted me in the streets of Hoi An in Vietnam who said I had cycled past her house in Thailand! I guess an old man on a bike is quite hard to forget," chuckles Adnan.
The encounter made him reflect on this technology-crazy world.
"Even with e-mail, facebook and everything else, I still believe that lasting human bonds are best formed through face-to-face interactions," says Adnan.
He believes that charity begins at home, and to this end, has been running many marathons to support and raise funds for various causes.
"I ran 100km from Subang Jaya to Port Dickson back in 2006 to raise funds for a young girl with a kidney ailment. I recently completed the 24th Marathon Des Sables (Marathon of the Sand), a seven-day, 243km run across the Sahara desert in Morocco, to raise awareness and funds for the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF).
"The real victims of HIV and AIDS are the children. They are born innocent and yet have to grow up with the stigma of a disease that too often is associated with drug addicts and prostitutes," says Adnan.
Adnan wants to continue to raise awareness of their plight through the upcoming Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2009 on June 28, for which MAF is a recipient of the Standard Chartered Trust Fund (SCTF). Part of the proceeds raised will go to three homes: Rumah Soleha, Rumah Wake and Pusat Jagaan Nur Salam, which provide shelter to over 100 children and single parents infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.
"I will be running the full marathon (42km) and hope more people will participate to support this cause," he adds.
According to Adnan, you don't need a lot of money in order to see the world.
"One man can make a difference and that is why I share my time and experience with people along the way, and volunteer to run marathons to raise funds. I want the younger generation to be inspired by this," he says.
Join Mohamed Adnan Osman as he runs to raise funds for a cause dear to him. Visit www.kl-marathon.com to find out how.
-The Star/Asia News Network