In January 2013 I joined a friend to cycle 800 kilometres in eight days between Nong Khai and Yasothon in north-east Thailand.
We joined 30 others who had each raised A$10,000 for Hands Across the Water to support tsunami orphans and children with HIV.
At the end of the ride, we finished at the Home Hug orphanage and were introduced to the children. Each rider was escorted by one child around the orphanage. The children were as lively as any child in your own family. Yet most were on medication for HIV.
The boy who showed me their gardens, fish and dormitories has no family to care for him, except the kind teachers we met at the orphanage, and no support apart from money mainly supplied through Hands Across the Water. There is no social welfare system in Thailand. The average daily wage is Bt300 – NZ$12 a day. It costs about NZ$1,400 a year to provide for this boy – about NZ$4 a day.
When we left, after a party of celebration that evening, we took a photo of the child we had met and wore cord bracelets that they had tied to each of our wrists as if it was a wedding – we were now their family. That is why I’m riding again in January 2014 and why, once again, I’m raising A$10,000.
Now, in early September with A$2,000 raised, and another A$1,200 committed, I find the journey of fundraising more uncertain and demanding than the ride itself.
With the support of several businesses – Sileni Estates, Paramount Cinema, Habit gym and Phu Thai Lanna restaurant – I’ve packaged various fundraising events to put in front of family, friends, church, colleagues, associates and clients. It has been an eye-opener to watch how their spirit of kindness responds. It has enriched many relationships and developed new ones.
How do a handful of New Zealand cyclists build rapport in Thailand? We demonstrate that our supporters care for the marginalised. This support gives the children opportunities – including, for some, visiting and studying in New Zealand. This builds understanding. And there are no strings attached.
If you are interested in adding your support, please contact me about:
· a Thai cooking class being held on 21 September
· a Night of Inspiration on 15 October (in Auckland)
· a 24-hour spinathon being held 2-3 November (participants cycle one or two hours)
· a wine fundraiser being held before Christmas
· or make a direct donation to Hands.
And if you’d like to experience the ride, click here.