27 November 2020

#ProtectYourBall

#MoSteps walkathon challenge
3 MIN READ
This phenomenal Mo sister has been galvanizing teams across the sporting community in Hong Kong, to raise awareness, funds and education around common health issues, suffered by men and women.
 
This year, Sonia Vashi Chandiramani has been tirelessly organising the #MoSteps walkathon challenge, a Hong Kong-wide virtual initiative to walk 60km over two weeks, representing the 60 men lost to suicide, each hour, across the world.

BE PHENOMENAL
Sonia moved to HK when she was eight years old from the small Caribbean island of Curacao. Educated at local and international schools and university in HK, Sonia is a true global citizen with a keen interest in community development and health/wellness advocacy, shaped by the communities she has grown up in!
This led Sonia to create the Phenomenally Pink fundraising team, bringing sporting men and women together, initially to profile common women’s health issues, such as Breast Cancer.

UNDERSTANDING THE CULTURE GAP
Sonia is passionate about sports, and has played Rugby for various clubs including Kowloon RFC and now Valley RFC.  Sonia has a sound understanding for the culture of the sporting community.  She explains, “There are undeniably some gaps between the sporting communities in Hong Kong.  I wouldn’t say ‘divides’, but much rather ‘gaps’, that can be meaningfully integrated by the type of initiatives we’ve developed for Phenomenally Pink/Mo.”

NORMALISING THE NORM
Phenomenally Pink is now Phenomenally Mo and doing just that; driving phenomenal awareness of the Movember campaign in Hong Kong.  Sonia shares her motivation.  “There are several reasons why I believe Movember deserves to receive as much of our attention as with other more ‘normalised’ causes.  The core reason deriving from a need for equality in society and how we perceive and deal with all matters. In more conservative Asian societies especially, we often shy away from talking about hardships, be it for a man or a woman, and thus, we shape these barriers and stereotypes suggesting only the weaker would need support and attention. There are many old and unestablished concepts that need to be restructured in society for us to truly normalise the normal.”
#PROTECTYOURBALL
 
On that note of ‘normalising’, The Phenomenally Pink/Mo tagline is the attention-grabbing “Protect Your Ball”, which has synergy across Pink October and Movember, apart from the obvious meaning of ‘protecting your ball’ during game play. It’s a conversation starter, ‘ball’ or ‘balls’, relevant for breast and/or testicular cancer awareness!

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
 
Sonia has first-hand experience of supporting loved ones suffering with cancer.  “I did lose my mum to cancer a couple of years ago and I wish I’d been able to support her more pro-actively and in a more informed way and want others to have that advantage. 
  
“I know the challenges of 2019/20 in Hong Kong have gravely impacted many men, but it’s been inspirational to see many men also take up new challenges and take on new skills. I’ve definitely seen a lot more men starting to take care of their health and investing in wellness, not just monetarily but also scheduling time and effort into self-care. It’s a shift I’ve seen across all age groups, and interestingly, not just among the younger demographics.  I think it’s been a period of time that has encouraged men to share their voices and thoughts, and I hope it will continue on, to encourage more men to be heard.”

MORE THAN MOVEMBER
Issues around physical and mental health affect us all year round.  Sonia concludes, “I think this is an all-year-round opportunity, so don’t stress out if you’re not fund- or awareness- raising at your prime in November. Let’s work together to devise a more robust and approachable plan for making this cause more visible and understood, whatever the season!”