Three years ago, I was blowing the dust off my backpack and getting ready for a trip to Thailand and Cambodia after a long travel hiatus. Little did I know at that time that crossing the border into the Kingdom of Cambodia would be a game changer for me.
Immediately I became immersed in the flavour of Cambodia, from Tuk-tuks to Temples I couldn’t get enough. But the absolute beauty of Cambodia proved to be her people. These amazing humans that have been through so much, that have lost so much, possess a resiliency, a love of each other and their country that is truly humbling.
Julie volunteer teaching in Cambodia.
While in Siem Reap, I had the privilege to help teach English to children in an NGO school. What I learned in 4 days from these young people, that possess such an indomitable spirit and enthusiasm for learning and for life, is immeasurable. I have no doubt that, given the chance, they will succeed they just need that opportunity and for them, that opportunity is an education. They will regain what was taken from them, create a future for themselves and surpass any limits that have unfairly been set upon them.
Julie volunteering in Cambodia.
The journey home to Nova Scotia (Canada) was a pensive one. I knew I didn’t want to slip back into complacency, back into my privileged life. I wanted more for them, and I wanted more for me. It was by pure good fortune that an internet search led me to Emily and to REACH Siem Reap. I learned about their Charity Bike Ride and I was excited. 800(ish) km’s over 10 days in Cambodia, the Cambodia that isn’t on the tourist maps, Cambodia in her Essence. There were challenges to be sure, but I was all in. Then, Covid 19 hit. The ride had to be cancelled, Cambodia was once again thrown into survival mode. While Covid created challenges and sadness worldwide, developing countries like Cambodia were faced with complete and utter devastation.
My efforts were now focused on fundraising to help provide life sustaining food and supplies to REACH and their families. The shift from education to survival mode was inevitable as the pandemic made strict lockdowns and closures mandatory. That REACH was able to continue to provide for these families while facing harsh restrictions is a testament to their love and commitment to these people. At the suggestion of a friend, (who was my travelling partner on this trip), I started doing on-line auctions to raise money. Nothing fancy, things around the house that I thought people might be willing to pay a few dollars for. I had modest expectations and was thrilled with the response. Since the 1st auction, the community has grown to over 100 and so many have contributed, either by bidding on items or donating items. I have 3 or 4 of them a year now and am always beyond grateful to my auction army who make them successful.
Last January I took part in REACH’s “Side By Side” charity bike ride that was created to replace the onsite ride. This event was truly a stroke of genius, I couldn’t wait to see my sponsor and to virtually ride with her. I can’t imagine how empowering it must be for these children to be able to contribute to their own future and education. Completing 200 km in Nova Scotia in January wasn’t without its challenges! Bicycling in Jan. isn’t a popular sport here so more winter friendly modes of clocking the miles were needed. There was a lot of walking, a good amount of snowshoeing and a pinch of skating. Luckily one of my friends has a stationary bike and welcomed me to stop over and go for an indoor ride as needed to make up the km’s. It was truly a fun and rewarding experience and I can’t wait to do it again!
Julie completing her “Side by Side” challenge in Canada 2020 by snow-shoeing, now that’s dedication!
Once Cambodia opens her borders again, I will return. These people that have so little yet are so rich have become a part of me. Their positivity is as real as their struggles.
With love, from Canada,
SPONSOR A YOUTH 2022
Will you join Julie in sponsoring a youth on our 2022 event?
By sponsoring a youth, you will be providing them with not only an exciting week away, but a sense of purpose as they complete 2 months of training to complete the 200kms in 2 days challenge for their community.
The cost of a sponsored is AUD$360; this amount covers your Sponsored Youth’s place on our ride and the amount is tax deductible in Australia. Please note, if you would prefer a U.S.A Tax Receipt you will need to contact us to arrange this.
Featured on the left is Julie’s sponsored youth on the 2021 charity challenge.
Included in this Sponsorship for 1 youth is:
- Access to 2 months of ongoing club training rides leading up to the event with snacks and refreshments.
- A merchandise pack which includes a REACH Riders Club t-shirt, REACH drink bottle, sports shirt, socks and trainers, padded cycling shorts, REACH sling bag, masks, hygiene supplies and a 2 liter water hydration pack.
- A fully funded 2 day / 1-night 200km cycling challenge to camp overnight with friends in a remote countryside location.
- A First-Aid certified Cycling Tour Leader and mechanics as well as several REACH chaperones to ensure safety at all times.
- 2 Support Vehicles, with all snacks and water stops as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner on both event days.
- Mentorship on the event from the inspirational young leaders of Cambodia Rural Students Trust organisation.
- Forte Group Personal Accident Insurance.
- The Finish Line Awards ceremony, with dinner for their parents where they are presented a medal and personalised certificate.
- A sense of purpose and commitment to our NGO and an achievement that they will cherish for a lifetime.
Sponsor a youth today:
Julie passionately believes volunteer work in Cambodia can make lasting difference on the lives of children.