Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Crowd-funding campaign

Sustainable Cambodia now has a CauseVox campaign

After many years of steady growth, the sponsorships and grants that kept SC alive have significantly dropped this past year. As part of a new initiative, our onsite volunteer team has now set up a crowd funding campaign through CauseVox. Now ANYONE can easily create his or her own personal campaign on behalf of SC. 

Crowdfunding is not a new concept – after all, soliciting funds from large groups of people is exactly what nonprofits and political campaigns have done for decades! However, the Internet has dramatically altered the ability of non-profit organizations like Sustainable Cambodia to reach out to its vast network of supporters. Websites like CauseVox provide a unique platform for non-profits to showcase specific projects or causes and accept donations. 

The funding quandary

Right from its inception, Sustainable Cambodia has always been funded by multiple sources. While the individual proportions have varied over time, broadly speaking, SC receives its funding from:

The founders and board of directors
Major grants, including Rotary club grants
Corporate sponsorships, usually for specific projects (such as the KBFC school)
Student sponsors and individual donors
Online donations via the website

Two years ago, SC lost a major sponsor for the Kravanh Bright Futures Center (KBFC school), thus reducing its annual funding by nearly $50,000. In the intervening years, thanks to a few generous sponsors and Rotary grants, SC continued to operate the school at its normal capacity. But over the last 6 months a number of big grants have drawn to an end and the ones that took their place haven’t been sufficiently large enough to offset the shortfall. This imbalance, coupled with the fact that online contributions haven’t grown significantly during the same period, has left SC in a very challenging situation.

The campaign

In response to the funding crisis, a group of volunteers launched an online fundraising campaign through CauseVox. SC’s master campaign page allows supporters to donate directly towards the fund raising goal, while also providing the tools for anyone to set up their own individual campaign pages on behalf of SC. This then allows SC supporters to personalize the message to their friends and colleagues and in-turn, recruit them to the fundraising effort.

The journey so far

Over a dozen individual campaign pages have been launched and nearly $900 raised in online donations over the course of a month. 

Campaigners like Dan Ridley and Kate Bleasdale have pledged to run a half-marathon and have begun training in earnest. 
A number of past SC volunteers have also accepted the torch and begun reaching out to friends and family through both their individual campaigns and via social media. While there is still a long way to go before the goal is reached, the response so far has been very encouraging. 

Everyone’s needed!

The power of a crowd-sourced campaign lies in its ability to make the community its ambassadors. Thus we need EVERYONE’s support to raise awareness for SC’s education and community development efforts. Please consider starting a campaign today! Or alternately, share SC’s campaign page with your friends and family through Facebook or email! We need your support, because every dollar donated is money that will go towards a child’s education!

Spreading smiles – on a Tuk Tuk

Tuk Tuk Theatre visits rural Cambodian villages

Children in rural Cambodian villages start helping their parents in their farms from a very young age and rarely ever get to experience much of a childhood. Most of the efforts and funding in Cambodia are typically focused (and rightfully so) on education and health. And so a team of SC volunteers decided to pool their resources and launched Tuk Tuk Theatre. 

Most villages in rural Cambodia are quite remote, with a vast majority of them still lacking electrical power. Children growing up in these villages rarely ever venture out too far from their place of birth, much less travel to urban centers like Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. A few may attend the local school and learn about the world outside of Cambodia, but the stark reality of their lives is that they will be unlikely to ever visit any of these places.

Edutainment – A different approach

A few months ago, a group of 7 SC volunteers decided to come together and pooled their resources to launch Tuk Tuk Theatre. A tuk tuk, that ubiquitous tri-wheeled Cambodian people carrier, was retrofitted with a TV and a sound system and then powered using a large car battery stored under the seat. The modifications to the tuk tuk allowed it to be a truly mobile theatre, capable of operating in remote locations even when there is no availability of a power source. And thus Tuk Tuk Theatre was born!

The goal of Tuk Tuk Theatre is simple – while it’s not possible to send all of these kids on excursions to far off places, it is certainly possible to bring the world to them through a television. By showing movies and nature documentaries, Tuk Tuk Theatre aim to expose kids to the wider world and allow them to dream of things that are bigger than what life currently provides. The hope is that it will one day motivate them to venture out beyond the confines of their village life and seek out these sights and experiences for themselves.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

Since its launch 2 months ago, Tuk Tuk Theatre has visited kids in over a dozen villages and schools showing movies, cartoons and National Geographic documentaries. In late June, the TTT team decided to go on an 800 km road trip around the Tonle Sap lake. The 10 day long trip saw them stop for a showing of Richard Attenborough’s “Planet Earth” at a high school in Battambang, entertain the neighborhood kids in Siem Reap with a fun night of Disney’s “The Lion King”, watched Donald Duck chase Chip and Dale with the kids in the rural village of Okuru Kae, and joined over 50 kids in a friendly game of tug-of-water at an intra-school sport’s festival in Kampong Chang! Follow their journey through their regular blog posts at this link! 

Campaign trails

As with all ambitious endeavors, scaling up will requires the influx of fresh funds. The team has an ongoing crowd funding effort to raise funds to expand on their vision. Visit their campaign page and support them in their innovative effort to spread smiles among the children of Cambodia! Or you can also support them through their website and Facebook pages! 

Youthlinc supports SC projects

This past month, Youthlinc again sent students and mentors to visit our Cambodia projects. Youthlinc is nonprofit organization dedicated to creating lifetime humanitarians by offering students and mentors local and international service experiences. Rotary clubs and Rotarians are engaged in helping Youthlinc with this program. This year we had a group of 43 students plus mentors - who came to help with some major projects.

We are grateful for all our supporters around the world, including you, and Youthlinc, and the many Rotarians who are working through Sustainable Cambodia and Sustainable Cambodia Australia to help village families and children. With everyone's help, nearly 400 wells are providing safe water, more than 4,500 students are currently enrolled in our schools, and nearly 25,000 Cambodians have been able to change their lives for the better. None of this would be happening without supporters like you!

This year the Youthlinc team spent 11 days in Cambodia. The projects they focused on at Sustainable Cambodia ranged from education and clean water, to health, road construction, and empowerment in the rural villages.

Each Youthlinc student and each mentor chose activities to participate in during their stay with us. These included installing a clean water well, rooftop rainwater harvesting tanks and water bio-sand filters, constructing and painting a school building, school garden, flag pole, school latrine, reading shelter and the fence, teaching and training (English, sewing, business concepts, health care and more), fixing and making new school desks, and planting vegetables and fruit trees and more...

Youthlinc made a lasting difference in the lives of the families with the projects they completed. The school is now providing education to more than 130 students. The children enjoyed learning. More than 300 village families have benefited from the whole projects, and they have found ways to improve their lives.

Ally: "My time in Cambodia was amazing! The country, but especially the people, stole my heart. Although it was difficult at time being in a large group they truly became my family. My hardest goodbye is one that was captured in a photo. My friend in the village was Stralia, this girl of a common language but this only made our connection stronger. Saying goodbye to her, I held onto the constant hope that maybe one day I will see her again. I love you Sralia! Thank you for teaching me how to love so freely."

Lexi Maggelet
Lexi Maggelet: "Cambodia is filled with the most positive and loving people. I'm so glade I had the change to venture into this country and learn so much. I'm already missing all the beautiful smiling faces like crazy!"

Clair Thomas: Time is a flyin’ (when you’re having fun)! The team put their finishing touches on the projects today! We finished the infamous fence, completed our mural and paintings on the water filters, put the last pile of dirt on the new volleyball court, and concluded our English lessons along with sewing projects. It was a bittersweet moment to see our time here in Cambodia coming to a close with all the sporadic tears and sad faces. Despite the sadness we felt over leaving our friends in Cambodia, the team felt very, very proud of all we accomplished in such a short period of time.

“I never thought I would have so much fun working”.  (That pretty much sums up the day).  Today we began the work portion of our trip, which many would have said they feared the most.  The blistering heat, vicious fire ants, and demanding work seemed daunting to say the least.  However, to the team’s surprise our day was filled with anything but “work”.  Our team reflected on the day of being nothing short of a party.  Endless chitter-chatter, laughs, embarrassing moments, and some work in between started our labor section off on the highest of high notes.  Who would have thought leaving the site would actually be a disappointment? The team was pleasantly surprised and enlightened to see the mutual effort from our side and the Cambodian people’s. Short cuts were learned, hard times were given, and relationships were built on a double-sided bond over getting down and dirty.  The team later reflected on how much they learned and appreciated the insight and cooperation from the S.C. (Sustainable Cambodia) team.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Preschool Children Need a Nourishing Meal

Supporters like you, and Rotarians from around the world, are helping thousands of village children get a quality education through Sustainable Cambodia's community preschools, primary schools, enrichment schools, and university scholarships.

One of our community preschools in Chong Rok village

The village preschools provide young children the foundation for academic learning and the opportunity to learn how to interact with other children.     

The children are introduced to the basics of reading and writing in both Khmer and English so that they may have an advantage upon enrollment in state school.

 Click on the photo to visit our page!

We also provide a food supplement program to support the children at many of our community preschools who otherwise might go without 3 nutritious meals per day. Through training courses given to the community leaders and mothers, the families rotate to cook a nutritious breakfast for the village children. 

 Click here to visit our page!

The preschool program has helped nearly 2,000 children, from ages 1 to 6, who receive education and a nutritious meal six days per week at our preschools.  Parents contribute rice, sugar, and their labor to cook the meals.  Sustainable Cambodia donors contribute funding for the balance of the ingredients for the food supplement program. 

Tatem Preschool

The project has been implemented by the community families themselves, with supervision and guidance from our staff.  The mothers who cook the meals rotate from day to day so that they all learn how to make nutritious meals for their families at home.

Preparing breakfast at Chherteal Rong preschool

The ingredients they use are varied, including cabbage, squash, carrots, eggs, fish, and green vegetables.  Some ingredients are grown in the local community, and the rest are purchased in the local market.

Children having breakfast at Chherteal Rong preschool

The children are always happy when the morning breakfast is served, delicious and early at 7 o'clock!  After the healthy breakfast, the children are better able to focus on learning their basic Khmer and English with a local teacher.

The greatest challenge to our Village Child-Health program is simply funding... We've lost the funding to support our preschools with the food supplement program. 

Uncle Chhuon Khoeum and his youngest daughter

"Our daughter loves going to the preschool with her friends everyday"

Uncle Chhuon Khoeum is 43 years old, and he is a farmer living in Chherteal Roung community, one of our target areas.  He has 4 children and his youngest daughter is studying at our preschool in his community.  His daughter's name is Khatt Leaken, and she is 3 years old. 

When we talked with Uncle Chhuon Khoeum about our preschool in his community, he said: "Thank you very much for helping our community with many projects, especially the preschool and breakfast project for our children.  Everyone is really happy that we have a preschool in our community and the healthy breakfast for the children.  Our daughter loves going to the preschool with her friends everyday.  There she enjoys eating healthy breakfast, learning basic Khmer and English, hygiene and sanitation, and playing with friends.  The breakfast made my daughter and other children so healthy.

Uncle Chhuon Khoeum's daughter and other students having breakfast at the preschool before class

My wife is one of the cooks who helps prepare the breakfast for the children at the preschool.  We also contribute some rice and eggs to that breakfast program.  My wife learned a lot from other cooks and SC's staff about nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation.  She also learned how to work with other people in the community.  The breakfast program is very beneficial to the children and everyone in the community.  We are really sorry that the program has finished.  We really need this program so much for our preschool kids and our community.  Please help make it happen again for our preschool."  

With the help of supporters like you, we hope that we can refund our food supplement program.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Exploring New Literacy Strategies - from Room to Read!

Supporters like you, and Rotarians from around the world, are working through Sustainable Cambodia and Sustainable Cambodia Australia to help thousands of village children get a quality education through our community preschools, primary schools, enrichment schools, and university scholarships.

Do you remember how you felt when you first learned to read? And do you remember the first book you loved?

In a recent study tour with the renowned Room to Read program, our teachers explored new strategies to maximize our libraries and to engage our students in reading activities. The tour also helped to build friendships and networks between Room to Read and SC.

Room to Read staff demonstrates ways to coach young readers

Teachers are inspired to explore new strategies after visiting Room to Read Program

Room to Read provincial coordinator demonstrates storytelling skills in a "Read Aloud" activity with our visiting teachers. This activity helps young listeners to make connections between illustrations and language. They also develop higher cognitive skills by predicting what will happen on the next page!! 

Activities of the students at Room to Read Literacy Program transform schools into child-friendly learning centers. Students develop habits of reading to help them throughout their primary school years and to become life-long, independent readers. 

Key Observations from our Teachers and Students 

The study tour was a great experience for our teachers, librarians and school principals who are inspired to apply what they have learned in their own classrooms. 

Our school principal Sopheap

"After the trip, we've shared what we have learned with all of our teachers about the new methodologies, especially we focused on the students in grade 2 and 3 or for the beginner level. We are making a plan to help them to read and write in English. Our teachers make the classroom to be the place that the students want to learn with the happy environment. 

One important thing about the library at Room to Read is that they have made and published their own books with interesting stories, pictures and easy words that are related to the life of the students. We have a plan to get some books from them for our library, too. 

Now we are also preparing the library so that the kids want to read and do the research there, and we have noticed that our students start to like reading and most of them borrowed books from the library to read at home."

5th grader Roeun Kimleng reading books with others in the SC library

Kimleng said in Khmer, "Before I did not like the library, but now I love it so much because there are a lot happy activities we can play and learn with our friends here after class. Now my Khmer and English teachers always tell us about interesting stories that make us want to read more in the library."

 Mr Chhut Borin, English teacher

"We really appreciated that the students in the 2nd grade at Room to Read can read Khmer fluently and confidently. We have learned a lot from them. We've learned about library including book arrangement, book labeling and book loan management that allows the students to borrow the books to read at home. Most importantly, we have learned how to link the classroom to the library, how to make children love reading, and how to help young children learn how to read and write basic words.

Now we are practicing what we have learned from Room to Read with our students, and we have noticed that more and more students love going to read the books in our library."

Miss Soy Sokhom, one of our librarians

"After the visit, I learned more about the roles and responsibility of the librarian. I know that the librarian is not only the person who takes care of books, and looks after the library, but I also have to prepare lessons to teach the students sometimes. I've learned how to prepare documents to count the students entering the library and the list to control the students who borrow books. I have more concepts of how to prepare books to be attractive in the library."

Then Sotheanun, a 6th grader reading in SC library

He said in Khmer: "I often run to the library after class because I don't want to miss my favorite story books. If I am late, other students will use them. Now I can borrow the books to read at home, too. I want to read all the books in the library if I can."

Our English Teacher Pheakdey with students who are studying traditional Cambodian dancing

"After visiting Room to Read, I gained a lot more experience in terms of teaching small kids to read and to write correctly in Khmer language. I am really new for teaching kids so it is the meaning experience for me. What I have learned from Room to Read are teaching letters and letter sounds one by one clearly, and practice more and more before going to another letter and letter sound. 

Moreover, Room to Read can teach teachers to teach students to learn through linking classroom with library. Students study in their classes from their teachers and practice their recent lessons in the library by reading story as their grade or level. By doing this, students can learn faster and easier when they are familiar with teaching and learning system.

Finally, I have a strong belief that I can make a great change for SC students by starting from my classes. Even though Room to Read gives the training in Khmer language, I still have an optimistic belief that I can teach my students the same way as Room to Read does by teaching phonics and phonograms. I can guarantee that my students will be able to read at least easy words by five to six months later."

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Students & Teachers Smile During WASH Education

Supporters like you, and Rotarians from around the world, are working through Sustainable Cambodia and Sustainable Cambodia Australia to help thousands of village children get a quality education through our community preschools, primary schools, enrichment schools, and university scholarships.

In addition to education, we believe that every child has the right to safe water and sanitation. Hygiene education remains a major component of our school programs and the communities within our target areas. This is a story about those communities and children.

Our children at Svay Att, one of our community preschools.
Some of our schools and the rural communities in which we work still lack access to water and sanitation facilities.

You'll read below about hand-washing stations we've just built in some of our schools, and the WASH (Water, sanitation, and hygiene) programs in our schools.

Students and Teachers Smile with their 

WASH Education

Students washing their hands at a hand-washing station
Last month we built hand-washing facilities for the students at Kouk Doung primary school, Veal Mlou primary school, and Wong Meanreth primary school in the TCS School Program. There are 1026 students currently studying in these schools.

These schools are sponsored and supported by TCS & Starquest Expeditions (a private jet expedition travel company) and by The First Days of School Foundation (a US education foundation founded by Rosemary and Harry Wong).

More about WASH Education

Teachers washing their hands at a hand-washing station
WASH education is introduced in schools at the beginning of each class where children learn about hand-washing, how to keep their hands clean even when water is not available, and the importance of keeping their living spaces and school areas clean.

Teachers are trained on how to communicate WASH messages to children and to engage the children in active learning and participation.

Teachers washing their hands at a hand-washing station
To date teachers have reported that "the children live more hygienic lifestyle after one-month class" and make more conscious decisions to keep the classrooms clean. Feedback from parents also highlight that the children practice hand-washing and cleaning at home and many have inspired their siblings to do the same.

Youth Clubs Promote Good Hygiene

Youth club students washing their hands at hand-washing station
The youth club students are taught about hygiene and become WASH ambassadors among to peers, friends, and families.

One of the youth club students said: "We form WASH clubs at school which focus on hygiene promotion and plan to do student-led campaigns including proper hand-washing techniques and frequency and clean up campaigns at school and at home."

Chan Rachna standing at the beginning of the row
Chan Rachna is a 10-year old boy in grade 4 in Kouk Doung primary school.

He said in Khmer "I learn a lot about hygiene and how to wash my hands properly. It is interesting to learn about it and practice it. I always clean my hands after using toilet and before eating food at school and at home. Thank you everyone for providing us a place to wash our hands, and teaching us about hand-washing techniques."

Ms. Proem Keo, a teacher at Kouk Doung primary school
Teacher Proem Keo smiled and shared her feeling about WASH Education with us: "Thank you very much all supporters. I myself have also learned a lot about hygiene and sanitation. My students are happy every time we learn about hand-washing lessons. They love coming to class everyday now."

Friday, January 30, 2015

Bicycling 2000km for Cambodians

We hope you know how grateful we are for your help in improving the quality of children's lives and for helping their families achieve sustainability and self-sufficiency.

We put all our funds into Cambodian projects, and spend nothing on marketing. So it's always a challenge to have enough funding for all the wells, school buildings and teachers that are needed. Which leaves us thinking, "What can we do about this?"

Well, one of our volunteers came up with a solution! Martin Benda rode 2,000 kilometers to support education for the children in rural Cambodia! Read below to discover more...

Our Volunteer Cycled 2000km to Raise Awareness and Funds for Cambodian Students!

From our volunteer Martin Benda: 

I hope you all recall the newsletter from November 2014 where I elaborated on my intention to cycle from Singapore to Bangkok, 2000km, to raise awareness and funds to help Future Stars (children) in Cambodia gain access to education and clean water. If you don't, please take a look here, since this newsletter builds on that.

My first connection with Sustainable Cambodia was established in March 2014 when I joined Victor Siow (a former onsite volunteer who is now a member of the board of directors) for a short volunteering trip to Pursat (a province located approximately 250km north of the capital, Phnom Penh, Cambodia). During this trip I visited many rural areas where I witnessed how Sustainable Cambodia helped local families put their children through school, build water catchment systems, and start up economic development.

This visit made a profound impact on me. From that moment onwards I began to ponder how I could join forces with Sustainable Cambodia to raise awareness and funds to help tackle these challenges families in rural Cambodia are facing.

What followed was a couple of brain-storming conversations with friends and the idea emerged - cycling from Singapore to Pursat. Later on I had to change the route slightly, and the 'Singapore to Bangkok' challenge was born. We created a Facebook group "Martin is Cycling 2000km for Future Stars of Cambodia" which has gotten 2,348 "likes" to date. Also, a donation PAGE was created where USD 6,330 has been raised to date. To all who joined this great cause to support Sustainable Cambodia, emotionally or in the form of a donation, a big thank you!

Well, let me take you through the main highlights of my cycling trip:

About The Journey

I had 2000km to cover in high humidity, high temperatures, and very heavy traffic. Essentially, before I set off from Singapore on November 22nd at around 4:30am, I had not made any hotel arrangements nor had I planned the journey in detail. The only objective I had was to reach Bangkok by December 5th to catch my flight back to Singapore. All I had prior to the very moment I set off was the map above. Anything and everything in between of November 22nd and December 5th was left to unfold on its own. Some might have said "pure madness!" I said to myself, "This is just going to be awesome." And it truly was!

Singapore > Malaysia

Literally, my first moment I actually threw a leg over the bike. Untested with 0km on the bike (since the bike was brand new), I pushed the pedals in the basement of my apartment in Singapore, with 2000kms ahead of me. Before I reached the border with Malaysia (around 40km away from my apartment in Singapore), millions of different emotions rushed within me. My brain suddenly started questioning the reliability of the bike, the likelihood of tackling all the challenges successfully, and the probability of actually making it all the way to Bangkok. My heart, on the other hand, exclaimed "Shut up and enjoy the ride." Well, I truly did!

I managed to whiz through Malaysia in just four days and on the 4th day, November 26th, in early morning, I crossed the border with Thailand. Malaysia was more challenging than I anticipated. The terrain was very hilly, starting from north of Kuala Lumpur, with long distances with neither eateries nor small road stalls to buy water. During three out of four days I cycled through what seemed to be short and heavy tropical thunderstorms occurring in a regular cycle every three hours or so. My body got confused a little, after getting wet, then dry, then beginning to sweat again, then drenched in heavy rain again with almost no visibility, and the cycle repeating a couple of times a day. I was determined to cover the daily kms I had planned, and I didn't have the luxury to wait for the thunderstorms to stop. So I just kept pedaling.

Despite challenging conditions, the bright spot was the hospitality of the Malaysian people. Wherever I appeared with my bicycle, people approached curiously asking about the cause. In many cases I was invited to have a meal with them and other passers-by, a truly memorable experience.

Entering Thailand

I very vividly remember the moment I entered the land of smiles, Thailand. Unfortunately, there was no big smile on my face. My butt was in so much pain after nearly a thousand kms that I could barely sit on the saddle! Just the mere thought of cycling one more km was killing me... Well, I had to get creative. I popped by a local car repair garage, purchased an arm resting cushion which I taped to the saddle. The result wasn't pretty, but I could carry on cycling through the land of smiles with a big smile on my face, too... Perfect!

I was very pleasantly surprised by the fact that all the way from the border with Malaysia I had a shoulder lane to cycle in. I felt safe and nothing could really stop me. The food stalls along the road were ubiquitous, and I started having my regular daily dose of coconuts. I can tell you that there is nothing more refreshing than having a fresh coconut when cycling in the direct afternoon sun in air that is as humid as the sauna. In fact, I drank around 10L of liquid a day!

Day in day out, I was covering around 200kms+ a day which put me ahead of my schedule by a day and a half. I wanted to use this time wisely and was contemplating to either reach Bangkok sooner or to take a break somewhere on the beach. Well, one should not be surprised that I decided to go for the latter! I found an amazingly beautiful stretch of a coast called Hua Hin, approximately 210km away from Bangkok. I spent two days in Hua Hin, indulging myself in some great seafood while recovering my numb butt and legs. Despite almost depleting my budget for the trip (the seafood was to blame), I was ready to hit the last leg of the trip to Bangkok.

Reaching Bangkok 

Fully rested after my break at Hua Hin, I was fired up to cover the last leg of 210km in record time and reach Bangkok in late afternoon. I set off very early in the morning and started pushing the pedals harder than ever before. I was able to maintain 40km/h on straight road, however, due to heavy traffic I paced myself at around 30km/h on average.

The moment I was nearing Bangkok I was constantly looking for a Bangkok sign to take a selfie and post it on Facebook, to let everyone know I made it. Well, there was no sign! However, something was telling me that the heavily urbanised areas were the outskirts of Bangkok, and that was confirmed by my mobile GPS.

Cutting through heavy traffic and millions of scooters all around, an hour or so later I reached my hotel in Bangkok. Extremely excited about my achievement, I wanted to let the world know that I made it! I took a selfie in front of my hotel at Sukhumvit that had a proper Bangkok sign, and the photo went straight up to Facebook! It is extremely difficult to put it in words how I felt when I reached Bangkok. I felt on top of the world, I felt invincible, and I felt that there is nothing I could not accomplish in this world.

What is next?

I am absolutely determined to find more ways to raise even more awareness and more funds to make an impact in the lives of the children - the "Future Stars" - in rural Cambodia. Despite being rather quiet about my next challenge, you can bet it will be a significant step up in terms of difficulty and funds to be raised. This cycling trip was just the beginning! Stay tuned, you will hear more news by end of 2015!

Final Thought

I truly hope that this adventure will raise awareness and be something of an eye-opener, as it was for me! The key takeaway from this trip for me is that we can accomplish truly amazing achievements when we set our mind to a specific goal. It is very important to join forces and channel our determination to where it can make a real impact, an impact from which those less fortunate can benefit.

In our November 2014 newsletter I said that perhaps helping the Future Stars of Cambodia can lead to identifying a lot of otherwise hidden talent. I am aware that the basics have to be fixed first, but I like to shoot for the stars and expect nothing less. Therefore I hope that my cycling trip laid out the foundation to find the future Albert Einstein, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Angelina Jolie and so on among the future stars of Cambodia. Let's find out, step by step!

In conclusion, I would like to express a big thank you to all those who made a donation on this PAGE and to AIMIA, my employer who sponsored me with cycling gear and some additional annual leave.