Home Reading news How Caversham cyclists helped orphans in Asia

How Caversham cyclists helped orphans in Asia

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Seven years ago Crispin Fairbairn was working in Cambodia when he came across an orphanage that needed help.

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He decided to get involved and committed to sending money to them each month. The help he provided meant they were able to build a school and out of this work Hope Asia was born.

In 2012, Hope Asia expanded in to Myanmar (formerly known as Burma).

“I came across some children in a shack on the outskirts of Yangon,” said Crispin, a pastor of Grace Church in Caversham.

“They were living in a little Burmese house and whenever the area flooded all the sewers came up and the flood waters washed under the shack they were living in; it was all very horrible.

“I thought it would be good to raise money for them as well and build them a place. So we did that in 2012, we built a children’s home for 40 children.”

Hope Asia raised the money by organising a sponsored cycle ride.

He said: “I discovered that no-one had ever done a cycle ride in Burma before and so it took us quite a while to get it all sorted and set up.”

The ride took place at the end of October when 20 people cycled 230 miles across Myanmar in 40ºC heat. It took five days and raised £30,000 to improve facilities at the home. There was even money left over which meant the team were able to fund a teacher for a year as well as buy a washing machine.

“The cycle ride paid for a wall to go round the compound because they have rabid dogs all around the place there,” Crispin said.

“I got nipped by one a couple of years ago so I was quite conscious of the need to make it secure.”

Children come to live in the orphanage from all over the country – those who are abandoned at the roadside can find a home at Yangon.

“They’re safe there because they have brick walls, they’re not sleeping 2in or 3in above sewage and are protected from people who would do them harm. They are fed, given medical treatment when they need it and an education, so it changes their lives completely.

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“We send the children to local schools, their school tends to be half a day so they go to the morning school or an afternoon school. We have teachers coming in every day and teaching them extra things. We teach them English so they will have a skill that will help them to get jobs.

“They are desperately keen to learn, they work very hard at school. If they can get a qualification it can change their life completely.

“We are hoping to build a second dormitory building, we’ve got lots of things we want to do to improve the children’s home. We’d like to build a clinic and a day centre for them. There’s no end of opportunities really.”

Find out more about Hope Asia from its website, www.hopeasia.org.

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