Yesterday I was working (so you see, I’m back to reality) at Abbey Road studios in West London, and a friend came over to make a donation to my charity. I was delighted since we’ve been hovering on the brink of £7,000 for a little while now, but when my friend Adrian realised that we were now about four pounds off the landmark, he whipped out another fiver and made it a round £7k. My desk partner Julian also pitched in, so as if by magic we’re now heading upwards again!
It’s incredible. Since starting back in May with the very first donations, I’ve watched the amount that Cycling Solo Across Canada 2017 has raised just grow and grow, until now we’re at this huge total. Your fantastic generosity has made this happen, and I’d like to share with you a little of what will happen to your money when it’s sent off to SOS Children’s Villages.
The money will go into what’s called the ‘General Fund’, which means it’s available to help in the area of the world that has the greatest need; Disaster Relief work (I’ve been following the recent dreadful sequence of hurricanes particularly closely – my brother lives in their path in Florida – and know that SOS has helped the central America region many times in the past), individual projects in The Gambia and Zambia amongst others, as well as donations to other important projects all over the world. In other words, it’s priceless.
(In emergency situations, SOS is most closely involved with child protection)
One bit of my kit that failed to survive the CrossingCanada2017 lifestyle was my inflatable pillow, from MEC in Vancouver. It sprang a leak in a seam and couldn’t be fixed. Using several other bits of my kit, it was possible to improvise an alternative, but it never really worked that well and made me realise how much we rely on keeping simple things like this useable.
When I got home I found a letter waiting for me from the SOS Children’s Village I sponsor in Choluteca, Honduras (which is slightly different from the fundraising I’m doing for here the whole charity). They send you updates from time to time about how they’re all doing, and particularly any changes or improvements that they’ve made in the village. Over the summer they’ve been fitting new ceiling fans that actually work, and the kids have been very excited about being a little cooler at night (they’re close to the Pacific Ocean and nighttime temperatures are often in the mid-thirties Celsius). Apparently they also find that by stirring the air, the mosquitoes are less irritating. But that isn’t the thing that the children are most interested in. More important than this, and getting several paragraphs of the letter, is the arrival of a very simple, everyday item: new pillows.
When I read this account of how much it meant to children in the village to receive what we would consider a very basic requirement, I felt that slightly uncomfortable feeling of having something you should appreciate more being pointed out to you. Here’s the passage in the letter that describes the arrival of the new pillows (please excuse the “auto-translate” from Spanish to English):
It has been an extraordinary experience, returning to work in London, to find out how many people were following the blog for all those months on the road in Canada. The trip has to come to life again for me because of chatting to everyone about it, reliving the highs and the lows.
I also made a return visit last week to the Stewart House assembly at Beechwood Park School (where I teach for one day a week), to thank them for the amazing support they mustered whilst I was on the road. Sadly, I forgot to get any photos from the occasion (I must be out of Canadian blog-practise, eh?), but we talked about some of the big events from my trip, and there was a Q&A session where any burning questions from the last few months got an airing – “How many animals did you see?” (tons of everything except bears), “What was the worst thing that happened?” (probably the dog attack in Manitoba, saved by howling back at them), “How many punctures did you have?” (none!) “Was it tiring?” (yes). I was met in the corridor by two pupils who wanted to know if I was the teacher who had cycled all the way across Russia – I said no, but would Canada do instead? It’s been lovely to get so much feedback from kids who I don’t normally get to meet at school. Here’s the map in the music department that Head of Music Jane Lodge has kept updated with my progress since May:
I can’t quite explain the feeling I get every time I pass it. It looks like much more than just a map to me. I know it will have to come down someday soon, but it won’t be me that does it!
Any more developments on the the eBook front will be posted here as soon as they occur. So for now, I’ll just wish everyone out there a fantastic Autumn, and see you all soon…