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Thursday, 19 October 2006

The PEPY Ride: Changing Cambodia's Future One Mile at a Time - Page 3

Written by Alice Beban
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To spread the message of ‘Protect the Earth, Protect yourself (PEPY)’ to schoolchildren across the country, myself and five other cyclists pedalled our way through Cambodia’s back roads for an epic 1600km journey this year. The 2006 PEPY cycling team hailed from Canada, USA, New Zealand, England and Finland, and came together to represent the Non-Governmental-Organisation ‘PEPY,’ which was founded two years ago by two American women: Daniela Papi and Greta Arnquist.

kidsThe team began our journey in Siem Reap, cycled up to the Thai border, back down the Tonle Sap Lake and down to the South coast region where we crossed the border into Vietnam to complete the ride. As we travelled south, the weather became hotter, and we started our biking days at 5.30am to beat the heat. Keeping hydrated in the tough conditions was a challenge, but luckily bunches of juicy, green coconuts were never far away, and the riders paused every few hours for a drink stop and a carbohydrate-loaded meal of rice and noodles.

Despite the rough roads with giant potholes that we had to negotiate in the northern part of the country, and the dust that could not be flushed out of chains and gears, we sustained only two punctures and some minor bike problems on the road. riding Most of the time the cycling was heavenly, the worst ailment to hit us was a nasty stomach flu. There were a couple of days I had stomach cramps most of the night and didn’t think I’d be able to get out of bed. That’s when it was incredible to have a team behind you – we all got each other to the end somehow.

 

The PEPY ride is one of a whole raft of exciting projects set up by the PEPY organisation, which has grown in leaps and bounds to become a centre funding and implementing health and education programmes around the country.

PEPY aims to raise awareness of the serious issues currently affecting Cambodia, both amongst Cambodian children, and also for people in other countries. They believe that problems of deforestation brought about by illegal logging, poaching, waste management, and health issues such as mosquito and water-borne diseases, and HIV, must be addressed so that the next generation of Cambodian children can grow up to appreciate the beauty of their country.

author and girlThe ride was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had, and I am definitely bringing my whole family from New Zealand for a volunteer trip next year. There’s something special about Cambodia. There are still the remnants of its horrific past, and you can still see the pain etched on some people’s faces, but they also have a great sense of humour and are incredible friendly.

Over 80 volunteers from 14 countries have visited a PEPY-supported school to work on educational and building projects since last year. The next PEPY Ride School Volunteer Trip will run from December 23-30, 2006. The volunteers take part in children’s health classes and English lessons, planting the gardens, sanding desks, and even constructing rainwater catchment tanks. There is also time for sightseeing on the volunteer tours, and the highlight is always a day spent biking around the Angkor Wat temples in Siem Reap.

yogaIf you would like to take part in a PEPY volunteer vacation, or to donate to the NGO, please visit their website: www.pepyride.org

©Alice Beban

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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