Monday, September 17, 2012

Wheels in Cambodia

Happy End-of-Summer Everyone,

Whether you're a person who loves riding bikes, or you love someone who loves bikes, or you barely tolerate me when I start talking about bikes, I hope you'll find my version of "what I did on my summer vacation" interesting enough to read to the end.

I left for Cambodia on August 18th to work with an organization called the 88Bikes Foundation (check them out at88bikes.org or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/88bikes). Very simply, 88Bikes provides bikes to kids in developing countries who have been challenged by poverty, war, conflict, disease or other regional hardships. In the case of Cambodia, 88Bikes has partnered with the Somaly Mam Foundation (www.somaly.org) and AFESIP (www.afesip.org) to support women and girls rescued from sexual violence, slavery and human trafficking in three recovery centres in the country. I was the lucky volunteer that went to Cambodia on behalf of 88Bikes to deliver bikes to 300 young women and girls in these recovery centres, to teach them some simple bike maintenance skills, and to ride bikes with them. This was pretty much a perfect summer vacation!


The highlight of the trip was riding with 50+ teenaged girls from the recovery centre in Siem Reap to the temples at Angkor Wat and back. A few things I learned on this ride: 1) 50 teenaged girls make a lot of noise; 2) riding a beater bike in 44C heat at 85% humidity for 3 hours is much harder than Banff Bike Fest; 3) bikes make people happy.

Don't worry, I am not ending this posting by asking for a donation, but if you are interested in learning about 88Bikes, you should check out their website to learn about their other projects around the world and about one of its founders, Dan Austin. I got in touch with 88Bikes after reading about Dan's story at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in 2011. If you are motivated to learn more about modern day slavery and human trafficking, check out the Somaly Mam Foundation and/or read the book Half the Sky by Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

I hope you are all having a great summer as well - Hope to catch up with most of you at spin class next week!


Lesley

 Me with the women who work in the Voice for Change program - survivors themselves, now working as advocates for women and children in communities throughout Cambodia.

 Bike Love! On the ride back from Angkor Wat.

A corral of bikes at the Kompong Cham recovery centre.

1 comment:

Trev said...

That is really cool Lel. 50 Princess bikes complete with pink baskets !! Those look like great bikes, not the hand-me-downs I imagined when you told me about this. Those bikes have a ton of miles ahead of them.

What a neat thing to do for summer.

Trev

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