Sunday, March 3, 2013

Rotary Wheels for Learning 2013 Team Distributes 1,231 Bicycles to Cambodian Children

Next Bicycle Distribution Trip set for January 2014 – Open to All Rotarians and Their Friends. Contact:

A team of 20 Rotarians and Friends from Gravenhurst, Sudbury, Minden and Toronto have just completed their three-week mission of distributing an astounding 1,231 bicycles to rural children across Cambodia. 

This massive distribution was conducted under the Gravenhurst Rotary Club’s international program ‘Rotary Wheels for Learning’. Rotarian Lisa McCoy coordinated the project on-the-ground in Cambodia with the help of the local Battambang Rotary Club and volunteers from Banyan Learning Tree organization.

2013 Rotary Wheels for Learning Team in Cambodia
Our team was comprised of Gravenhurst area residents Jim & Marlyn Goodwin, George & Liz Rice, Lisa McCoy, Sharon Foley, Lynda Valcourt, Steve and Janice Hayhurst and Richard Augustine. Area cottagers Kathy and Clare Glazer-Chow joined our team along with Minden Rotarian Bill Obee and Sudbury Sunrisers Rotarians Darlene Palmer and Debra Betty who brought along five students from Cambrian College in Sudbury.

Last January, a team of Gravenhurst and Bracebridge Rotarians and Friends undertook a similar mission, distributing, 1,097 bicycles. 

Gravenhurst Rotarian Jim Goodwin Presents a Bike to a Student
With funding from the Rotary Foundation, Rotary Clubs and individuals across Ontario, this year’s team was also able to distribute 1,231 family-size mosquito nets, two tons of rice, 1,231tubes of toothpaste and toothbrushes, eyeglasses plus numerous bags of school supplies.
Teaching Dental Hygiene

Our team distributed the bikes at 12 locations in several provinces throughout rural Cambodia. 

The bikes were purchased locally and then shipped by trucks to our distribution locations. Our team’s job was to affix the baskets, bells, pedals to each bicycle as they came off the trucks. We also did some repairs plus a lot of tire-pumping by hand! We were always provided a helping hand from local people and of course, the children.

Our Team attends a Bicycle Distribution Ceremony at Prokeab Village
At each location, our team was treated as VIPs; attending a special distribution ceremony with local officials and dignitaries present. Two of our distributions were broadcast on Cambodian national television.  

The ceremonies also included a special dental hygiene education session sponsored by our program and taught by a Cambodian dentist. Our team members got really involved in these sessions – by actually brushing our teeth in front of the students. After these sessions, our team distributed the dental supplies. 

Our team traveled around the country by bus, giving us many opportunities to mingle with the locals and gain insight into the country’s unique culture and history. We also visited the famed ancient temples of Angor Wat plus Phnom Penh’s sites including the Royal Palace, the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide museum.

The team also personally met two CNN Top Ten Heroes who have made a big difference to the lives of many in this developing country. We distributed 100 bikes to children living surrounding Phnom Penh’s garbage dump. The school and orphanage there is run by People Improvement Organization founded by 2008 CNN top Ten Hero Phymean Noun.

In Siem Reap, our team met with Aki Ra – the Cambodian de-miner who has made it his life mission to ‘Make My Country Safe for Its People’. Aki Ra works daily in the remote minefields of Cambodia where an estimated five million landmines still plague the countryside. For his dedication, he was awarded a 2010 CNN Top Ten Hero Award. At our visit to his landmine museum and orphanage, he was awarded with a Paul Harris Fellow by our Rotary Club of Gravenhurst. 

It truly was a rewarding experience – hours of hard, hot work were soon forgotten when we were rewarded with the smiles from the Cambodian children as they received their first bike.

Photos of our 2013 trip can be found at

See RotaryWheels4L on You Tube for videos.

For more information on Rotary Wheels for Learning and how you can contribute towards bikes for Cambodian children – or join our next Bicycle Distribution trip to Cambodia scheduled for January 2014. Contact Lisa McCoy at:

Rotary Wheels for Learning is an international program of the Rotary Club Of Gravenhurst.

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