Five Days, 500 km and with An individual fundraising target of $5,000, Focus’ very own Jay Beaumont pedalled his way across thailand with 45 other business owners, all to aid the charity hands across the water .
Tell us about Hands Across the Water …
Hands Across the Water was founded by Peter Baines, a police forensic specialist working with the disaster victim identification team after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. Peter was deeply touched by the number of children left homeless and alone by the natural disaster. He was inspired to establish an organisation that could make a real difference.
In 2004, they initially supported 32 kids who had lost their parents and were living in a tent at Baan Tharn Namchai in Phang-Nga, a town on Thailand’s northern Andaman coast. The kids were left without food, shelter or support.
Today, Baan Tharn Namchai alone is home to over 100 children. Many of the children left orphaned by the Tsunami are now in high school and some are even attending university.
Due to a huge need, Hands Across the Water now also financially supports seven other orphanages across Thailand.
What started to help orphaned children from the Tsunami now cares for hundreds of kids who have come to orphanages for all sorts of reasons, some of which bring you to tears.
What makes Hands Across the Water so special?
Every cent we raise goes to the kids and their communities. No donors’ money goes to administration. Or staff costs. Or marketing. Or fundraising. It all goes to the kids.
The care also comes without conditions. They don’t seek to impose a religion or belief system upon those they support. Hands simply give kids chances to grow according to their own beliefs and traditions.
Whom did you ride with?
I rode with 45 other business owners from Business Blueprint, which is a group that is run by my brother, Dale Beaumont. Everyone who undertook the ride was a Blueprint Member, raised a minimum of $5,000 and paid their own way over there, including doing the ride. All the money raised from each rider goes directly to Hands and the kids, and every single rider was committed to finishing the ride – both for the sense of achievement, but also as a commitment to all the people who financially supported our ride.
Together we raised over $300,000 AUD, which goes a long way in Thailand.
How long did the ride go for?
The ride was 500 km over five days. Each day we completed about 120 km, with the final day being only about 50 km … which, we found out, was because of the 4 km of straight uphill, which I had to do in the lowest gear I had.
All the riders were well looked after by a great support team, who provide rest stops, bike mechanics and guides to help make sure you don’t get lost.
What motivated you to keep pedalling?
Each morning before we rode out, someone would read a real story from one of the kids at the orphanage – how they got there and what they have been through. Some stories were just horrific, and it was a very emotional time for everyone doing the ride. So when you’re out there pedalling up the 15th hill for the day, you’re motivated to keep going when your body is screaming to stop.
Plus, a lot of local businesses had financially contributed to my ride, so not finishing wasn’t an option.
We hear it was pretty hot?
The heat was unbearable some days. At one stage it was 43 degrees, and the sun was just blazing down. My drink bottle was lukewarm in 20 minutes. Add this to some steep hills and headwinds, and it became mind over body. Your body begs you to quit, but as long as I kept those pedals turning, I was always going to make it.
What is the scenery like on the ride?
AMAZING! Because we did our best to stay off the major roads, we did a lot of the riding along the ocean, through fishing villages and small towns. Everyone was friendly and greeted you with a wave as you rode by, some may even have been laughing at the sight of me in Lycra.
Each day we were treated to something special – huge cliffs, stunning beaches, fishing boats, and we even rode across a Thai military base runway.
You took some amazing photos too?
Yes, as part of my ride I also took on the role of official photographer and videographer for the whole group. Each day I would do my best to finish each leg as quickly as I possibly could, so I could get photos of some of the other riders in action as they came into a rest stop. Needless to say, I didn’t get many pictures of the lead riders.
After the ride finished, we had the option of relaxing in a five star resort on the beach and getting a much needed massage, or helping to build a pathway that should only take a few hours for the orphanage. That pathway turned out to be a 50m driveway up a hill. The orphanage had purchased a rubber plantation, with the aim of being self sustaining and needed access. Fifteen of us fought two concrete trucks of wet cement, which we had to hand bucket up the hill because it was so wet. Luckily, we had a builder with us that made some sense of the bamboo reinforcements and got us all working efficiently. Five truckloads later in the blazing heat, we had finished, just before the sun went down.
As much as we had all missed relaxing by the beach, there was this amazing euphoria while sitting in the back of the orphanage bus on the way back to the hotel, drinking a cold Singa Beer, exhausted but full of pride. We all felt like we genuinely achieved something, and it was a day I’ll never forget.
What local business supported your ride?
A big thank you to Laing + Simmons who contributed significantly to the ride and to Pycon Homes and Consructions, Aqua Vitae Day Spa, Coastwide Concrete Pumping, Never Late Electrical, Holiday Coast Connections, Hasting Data Loggers, Saltwater Wine Surf Centres, Black Duck Brewery and Bar, Forty Winks, Hello Koalas, Centre for Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture and Lighthouse Medical Centre.
How can readers get involved?
I’ll be committing to doing the ride again in 2016. If anyone would like to financially support my ride, with all money raised going to Hands, I would love to hear from you. Readers can also donate directly or register for a ride via www.handsacrossthewater.org.au
This article was from issue 116 of Greater Port Macquarie Focus.