Jake in Siem Reap Wed night 5th August
Unbelievable that already 5 days have flown past since arriving here and all is moving so fast it is incredible.
The learning space has been getting there step by step, we started with a big clean, then Pheakdey painted and re-waxed the timber flooring getting rid of the old yucky plastic flooring. We then went on a very interesting shopping experience trying to find furniture, ending up making a deal with a guy out in the never never and they look great. We certainly have a long way to go but I think that we have made a very stylish and exciting start to what will become a true hub of 1step1life. I would like to take this chance to say a special thank you to Donovan from Superior Activewear Australia, who not only put up with me as employee for 12 months in 2013, but also donated significantly towards the learning space, hugely appreciated and look forward to showing you that you made a great decision. I’m gradually making friends with the neighbors too, I bought water from the lady next door, get big smiles and hello’s from the kids now and always wave to the passing traffic as I sit on our veranda.
Sons school: last night we headed out for a big community dinner. Just like in April I was so blown away by the effort Son put into making this happen. After dinner Carina (the "German"lady) had arranged for us all to gargle blue dye which shows where our teeth are dirty, then had a toothbrush and toothpaste for every kid (including this big one). Had awesome fun brushing our teeth together and sadly even amongst the impoverished community my teeth were probably the worst haha. It was so incredibly cute and humbling to see how these kids appreciated and got excited about a simple toothbrush, rushing over as we handed them out. Seeing so many smiley faces on the school block really drove home why we do this, why we work so hard, why we lose countless hours of sleep, because at the end of the day these kids deserve to be happy, they deserve to not worry about there future and deserve to not live in poverty.
Today Wednesday, I saw Tony from Blend to seal the deal on our water/Gatorade and fuel money for the ride. Then headed off to sort out the actual bicycles and eventually got them sorted and back to the learning centre. Picked up our great T shirts from Silkscreen then finally a big dinner meeting with Son, Pheakdey, Carina and Laura. We managed, in such a small amount of time, to sort out plans for interior walls, toilet block, new desks and supplies, a new syllabus written by Laura (teacher here in SR) all using Carina’s donors money from Germany which is being transferred already to Son!!! We worked awesomely together as a team, with Pheakdey and Son both keen to do independent quoting as a challenge to see who can get it most affordable.
With signing leases, huge community parties, negotiations left right and centre, meeting’s everyday it has still managed to be such an enjoyable week. You only have to spend 2 seconds walking the streets of SR or Son’s Village to get inspiration to keep going. Everyone you see virtually has a life that is harder than mine. I might be busy, stressed, sometimes sleep deprived, but I have never gone home wondering if I have enough money for dinner, or if tomorrow I will find a job that pays $3 per day rather then $2. Life here is tough, but everyday I also see hope, be it in the amazing people I meet who are helping in their own way, or through the difference I see that we are making. It always is an interesting journey but one I wouldn’t change for the world.
Hard to believe that in 4 days (10th) our 3 riders will head off on the epic 800km journey through this beautiful country. Through the ups and downs of heat and rain, through the ups and downs of seeing how life is lived here. But what is for sure is that it will be an experience they will never forget and in the process have raised an incredible amount of money for those who need it most.
As I mentioned above we got our new t-shirts today from Silkscreen, which are awesome. But I thought it would wrap up this email by explaining what the design means. At the top of the rear of the shirt is a series of interconnected rings, what this represents is the concept of a new World Flag which is trending online – with the message that we are all one, we all live and breath and we need to remember that we are all equal citizens of the beautiful world in which we live. This is further supported by the symbolic joining of the Aus flag and the Cambodian flag down the bottom. Blend and EPIRBhire.com.au are two of our sponsors and the quote is a favorite of mine “Be the change you want to see in the world” Mahatma Gandhi. The last thing of supreme importance on the shirt is the initials AJT on the sleeve which is for Alex our 4th rider who sadly passed away in June, although the bike ride isn’t for Alex, he is certainly a huge part of it and the entire team and riders wanted Alex to be with us all in some way every step of the trip.
Life is such an unbelievable adventure when you want it to be, although working in Cambodia has been the happiest, saddest, most stressful, most joyful times it has taught me lessons that I will never forget, lessons that drive me everyday to try hard, be nicer, be more patient and remember that everyday of life should be used to the maximum.
4 days time, bums will be hitting the seats for the first time on an epic 800km journey, if that isn’t living life to the maximum I don’t know what is
Speak soon everyone, much love and thanks for the endless support grateful every minute.