Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Let's Run: A documentary

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LET'S RUN!!! Documentary film

My name is Suranchuluun. I was born in Ulaanbaatar, 1981. We used to live in Ger district which was at the edge of the city, with my grandmother. I used to love writing poems and was fond of reading books. Now that I think of it I was quite a straight "A" student back then.

In the 1st and 2nd grade, I used to dance as a "snow girl" and dreamed of becoming a dancer. I grew up with big dreams...

In 1994, I visited my distant cousin in the countryside, in Dundgovi province, to spend my summer holiday. The children there were very naughty, and they used to whip the horses, and the horse that I was riding was very fast. I fell and I got hurt. I landed pretty hard on my leg.

At the time, they told me that I hurt my leg pretty badly, so the elders of the area tried to treat my injury with various traditional methods using black tea with salt. However my leg didn't get any better and I stayed there for about a month.

In late August, I came into the city and checked into the hospital. They couldn't medically determine or classify what exactly my injury was. And I remember well that I went around many local hospitals. I was advised to get checked at the cancer institution and so I did.

They told me that I had bone cancer.

They said that my injury was untreated so long that it formed cancer. Because I checked in late I had to do chemotherapy and radiation therapy immediately. I had gone around to many hospitals in 1994, but wasn't diagnosed until 1995.

In May of 1995, I went under surgery to amputate my leg.

After amputating my leg, for a teenage 13-14 year old girl, it was of course very hard. I felt lonely. There were many times when I cried at the hospital. It was painful, and going through constant treatment was tiring and during those hard times, to see my mother and grandmother go around to get me food everyday was very heart aching. I think my grandma did many things to ensure I wouldn't feel lonely. She constantly said things like "You're pretty", "You're a good student", "Amazing", "You can do it." She made me feel strong and brave.

You'll never hear the end of saying how difficult it was.

My grandma used to say, "You don't advance in live using your legs, you advance using your head." And at that time, I couldn't grasp the concept. "So you're not advancing with your legs, then how can you do it using your head?" Now that I think back on it, this was a very true concept.

If someone saw another in pain and suffering and thought to themselves "what would I do if I was in their place" is the mindset my mother taught me to have. To the teenage girl who had lost her leg, her friends were very important.

After the amputation surgery, I transferred to school #81 in the district #1 as a 7th grader. My teachers name was Tsendmaa but I couldn't go due to health reasons so I decided to write my teacher a letter. But then most interestingly, you know when in September "Spartikad" happens around on Saturday where children have competitions right? Well, I had writtent he letter a week prior to that. And my teacher had read my letter in front of the whole class who I didn't know at the time. She told my sister to bring me to class and my classmates welcomed me joyfully saying stuff like "Oh come here, you're one of us now".

I didn't know that she had read the letter to the class so I casually introduced myself and some held my bags for me. They truly welcomed me beautifully. Its like the saying when a black mark is on a person, you can't wipe it off. Well, my classmates left a white mark in my heart.

Even though I went under amputation surgery in 1995, I went through various treatments until 1998-99, such as chemotherapy and radiation. While I was going through the therapies, my classmates would occasionally stop by as if they had to. They would come around two hours after class so I would wait by the window waiting to see them.

After my amputation, my classmates opened the first beautiful doorway to social communication and the environment. They were such an amazing divers group of kids. They made me forget about my pain and suffering. To the classmates, who I'm still friends with till this day, I've never felt like an outcast there. I felt like I was one of them.

Till this very day, when I walk through the school door, the memories of the other class kids who I ran into, the other class girls who greeted me with a smile. They were all so nice to me. I don't know all their names because there were so many but I am so grateful to the people who were at the school at that time. They will always be in my heart.

I met my husband in 2002. We were friends at first and started dating in 2009-10. Now we have been living together for 5 years. I casually work independently. My spouse supports me especially when I'm feeling down. He stays by me and encourages me with beautiful words. And we are on the same page as one another.

In October of 2011, I had a beautiful baby boy. The one who inspires me the most and the biggest reason why I strive to go forward, is my son.

In 2005, I graduated from the National University of Mongolia with a degree in Social Work. In September of that year, I got in the National University of Medical Sciences as a part time teacher. Along side teaching at the Health Sciences University, I am establishing a NGO named "Success Chain" in Mongolia.

The goal behind this is to use sports as a guideline to a healthy approach to life.

On the 21st of June, for the first time, we hosted a running race that consisted of 5km, 2km, and 3km races for the public.

I had two reasons for hosting this event, first, there is an invisible wall between "healthy" people and people who have a disability. People are always on either side. So, my first reason was to break down this wall so that people can live together and we wanted to send a message: "You, me and them are exactly the same." It doesn't matter if you don't have any an arm, legs, sight or hearing. It doesn't matter. We are all human beings.

We have a lot of things to think about, and in those thoughts, there are many things to be done. For example, the race that took place on June 21st, there was my grandmother who was over 70 years old. She ran through the finish line with a cane after doing the 5km race. There were people with no arms but they still raced to the finish line. A daughter holding her blind fathers hand to the finish line.

When I saw those moments, it was amazing. Next to them, I felt less. I mean, I only lost my right leg while those girls and boys in wheelchairs were racing and it moves you because they put themselves out there in public is so amazing in today's society. I can't think of any other words to describe them other than Heroic and Amazing.

There are many things that people discriminate between us. Most important things are that the perspective of how that person things of themselves, "ego". In other words, it is the thoughts of "I must do this." or "I hope I don't seem this way." "I hope they don't think of me like this and that."

On the other hand, the thought of "Can I run with this person?" the idea and understanding of going with a person with a disability is nonexistent. In a well developed country and society, they broke down the wall of discrimination. Who has been to one of those countries? I say that it is time for Mongolia to do the same.

If a goal for me is a small stepping stone, for you it might be a huge mountain. However, if we spend the same amount of effort and time into the same goal, that unity will come to life. And when that unity comes together and starts going, we will start to understand one another.

"We all suffer the same, and we all get tired the same."

When we see that we all have some needs, that wall that is in between us will eventually start to crumble and break down. We need to be together, united as one. You shouldn't think like "things are going fine with just me alone and that shouldn't happen for them." I think that "If I can do it, they can do it." That is lacking among us.

Looking at today's generation, especially the youth, children, there is a problem I see where they can't see their self value while there are so many opportunities around them, but they choose not to take them. You have all your 4 limbs, and you're so young. They why are you saying, "I can't get up", "I can't run", "I can't do sports."? It really is a shame if you think about it.

I personally think that, if there is such a thing as victory, it's not about beating or being victorious over one another, it's about overcoming the internal challenges and obstacles you face in yourself, and that is the biggest victory in life.