Almost exactly a year from when we first started this bike trip, I’m sitting again in Mumbai International Airport, with my bicycle. I think that means it’s time enough to round up the year’s events and count the pennies. And what pennies they turned out to be. After some publicity in Ireland and Canada as we arrived home, the final total you donated to Room to Read on our behalf stands at a whopping $16779 cdn, smashing our target of raising $1/km cycled
Having just returned from an inspiring visit to a Room to Read school in Nepal, I now feel I can wholeheartedly say an enormous thank you for what you helped to achieve. From Pete and I, thankyou for your support, encouragement, and financial commitment to keep us motivated on those grunty days. More importantly, from the children whose education and opportunities in life have genuinely been turned around by those pennies you donated.
To be honest, as a family who have witnessed the raw end of charity fund distribution in Botswana, we’ve tended towards a little cynicism and caution when it comes to making charitable donations. That was why we spent considerable time choosing Room to Read as a charity we could wholeheartedly support, who are using those funds wisely to really make a difference to the little lives they help. A few days ago I was privileged enough to visit their office in Kathmandu and a local school supported by the Room to Read Library and Book Publishing program.
I could bang on for pages about the beautiful children’s books they publish (before their involvement in Nepal a children’s book written in Nepali was almost as elusive as the snow leopard), the funding strategies for school libraries to encourage local ownership and involvement, or their work to stop the trade and rehabilitate young ‘kamlari’ girls, sold by their parents as domestic workers as young as 8 and so denied any access to education at all. But you’d be better to visit their website or contact Room to Read themselves for a more eloquent description of their work.
Far more powerful for me was actually meeting the people involved on a local level. Seeing the light in their eyes as they discussed the projects they work on, and the genuine enthusiasm of local teachers who beyond treating me like an honoured guest and longlost relative, could barely let me go for descriptions of their innovative projects: in house water purification via electrolysis, veggie gardens and modern inclusive teaching methods. Needless to say the children were a delight: bright, bubbly and brimming with questions!
As the details of our journey fade a little with time, a gentle glow remains which I hope will never fade. A sense of fulfilment that we helped make a little difference out there, and of appreciation for all the warmth and generosity, of spirit as well as resources, from so many people who helped us along the way. You all know who you are, we can’t say thank you enough.
And judging by the grins on their faces, those kids were pretty grateful for their new story books too!
And a news round-up for those who’ve been wondering:-
I lost my camera in Mumbai so sadly no photos of that special school visit, or the spectacular days walking and cycling in the hills and villages of Nepal. Unfortunately, Poppet (my bike) was also left behind in Mumbai. Qantas wanted more than she was worth to bring her to New Zealand with me so she’ll stay there and be shipped out for my next trip. New Zealand has been good to me, so good that I’ve accepted a job offer here starting in July. So I’ve got a couple more months of surf and work lined up in West Oz and Indo before a return to Blighty to gather my skis (and some family, friendy fun and hugs I hope….all stowaways welcome!) for a winter or more in NZ. Poppet might have to wait a little while 🙂 (as you have for this post…i did start writing it in Mumbai in December!)
Pete is currently working as an emergency nurse in Tumbler Ridge, northern BC and enjoying plenty of fluffy white snow, icey climbs and domestic bliss with Sig this winter! His fundraising efforts have continued, with a BC speaking tour, he’s already presented on the bike trip at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival. In April, he is presenting in Tumbler Ridge and Dawsons Creek. If you are interested in hearing the presentation, please get in touch with pete – firstname.lastname@example.org.We have currently raised enough money to fund 3 classroom libraries and we are now trying to raise $2 for every km cycled to build 6 libraries…we need $23696 cdn so please keep on donating!
We chatter on skype as much as poss….and the words bicycle and trip have definitely cropped up together in the future tense more than once. I guess that means our arses are now fully recovered!