Quite unbelievably, it has been almost two years since I last sipped freshly squeezed sugarcane from a plastic bag and departed from the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. Here on the British Isles things are the “same, same, but different” as they say in S.E. Asia, but within myself I’m not the same.
Cambodia undoubtedly left a lasting impression on me. The statues of traditional Cambodian dancers, that sit on my bookshelf in inner city Manchester, take me back to the evening classes in the tiny village of Kandieng; of girls putting jasmine petals in my hair and of boys kicking their flip-flops off to splash in the overflowing well. For the most part I have happy memories; but embedded in my memory are also the stories of genocide, failing crops, an inadequate education system and female suppression, spoken from the mouths of those who have suffered.
Cambodia gave to me lasting memories, a sense of worth and a different view of the world. For this, and for the generosity and kindness that was shown to me by the Cambodian people, I hope to give something, however minute in comparison, back to them.
How will I do that? Well, through the insane idea of my wonderful colleague and friend Rachel, who I have had the pleasure of being inspired by since beginning work for the waste management company, Biffa, in 2016.
A few months ago, Rachel proposed to run the length of the Affric Kintail trail in the Highlands of Scotland and later decided to do this in aid of Tuk Tuk for Children. “44 miles, but we’ll have 24 hours to do it”, she said, “we’ll be distracted by how beautiful the scenery is”, she said, “beach bodies for the summer” she promised. Nine months down the line, and I’ve gone from not being able to run half a mile without keeling over in a desperate effort for my legs to not spontaneously combust, to actively seeking out longer and more challenging routes!
Our training has taken us to the spectacular Pembrokeshire coastline, Wales; along the historic Sandstone Trail, Cheshire, England; and up to the tortuous heights of Blencathra, the Lake District England. Up next on the checklist is the Leeds City Half Marathon.
Regardless of this training, running the 44 mile long stretch (and did I mention the 6000ft assent?!) is still a challenge that will push us to the very edge of our capabilities. However, knowing that it’s all for something more than an adrenaline fix, and that it’s in aid of improving the lives of the very deserved people of Cambodia, I’m sure we will muster the all-important last dregs of energy to make it to the finish line.
I hope that you will join me in showing your support for the amazing work being done by Adrian, Mayu and the rest of the crew out in Cambodia by donating whatever you can to the Tuk Tuk for Children Charity. They have made some incredible developments since I was last in Cambodia, and I hope that with your support the influence of the Tuktuk can be felt by many more.
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