300km charity trek to mark 300 years of the international Catholic institution Brothers of St Gabriel

300km charity trek to mark 300 years of the international Catholic institution Brothers of St Gabriel

Overcoming blisters, swollen feet, sun and rain, a group of eight arrived back in Singapore early on Thursday after a nine-day, 300km walk from Malacca.

Six boys aged between 15 and 17 were joined by two staff members from Boys’ Town – a local voluntary welfare organisation which helps troubled youngsters – on a charity trek to mark the 300th anniversary of the international Catholic institution Brothers of St Gabriel, which set up six schools in Singapore.

The group hopes to raise $150,000 for St Gabriel’s Foundation, which was set up in 2001 to take over the running of the schools here. They spent six months training for the trek, walking 34km two to three times a week. Setting off from Montfort Youth Centre in Malacca on July 29, they stuck to trunk roads and walked through villages, towns and cities such as Muar, Batu Pahat, Pontian and Johor Baru.

After crossing The Causeway on Thursday, they continued to Monfort Secondary School in Hougang, and some of the schools the institution founded, before reaching the Boys’ Town headquarters in Upper Bukit Timah on Thursday night.

The first three days were the hardest as they were not used to the physical strain, the boys said.

Assumption English School Secondary 3 student Ethan Teo, whose father works as a security driver and mother is a sales assistant, said: “I had many blisters and my toes were swollen. But I just tahan (Malay for endure), even though it was very painful.”

Every night, they stayed at a different hostel or a budget hotel. They set off at 6am every day and walked about 35km before reaching their destination by 4pm.

Assumption Pathway School Secondary 4 student Jackies Low said: “It was tiring but we entertained each other… and made jokes. I wanted to do this because Boys’ Town has changed me to be a better person. I was very lazy and I skipped school for two years. But now I’ve learnt to study hard and have discipline so that I can do well.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2015, with the headline 'Home after 300km charity walk from Malacca'.