Me at the temples of Angkor in 2005.
Restlessness ... that's how I would describe the next couple of days. When I got home in the evening after having a drink and a chat with Ingmar I took a closer look at the e-mail from MAG. They were looking for 20 volunteers to take part in the Community Challenge Cambodia 2010, which would take place from the 25th of November to the 5th of December. In this period those 20 people would travel to Siem Reap, the town near the temples of Angkor (which I myself visited in 2005
) and would spent a week building homes for landmine survivors.
Besides a registration fee, every volunteer would need to raise at least 3000 GBP. Half of this money would cover the costs of flights, accommodation, etc for the volunteers.
A picture from 2009's Challenge.
The remainder would be used to help people who have lost limbs in landmine explosions and finance MAG's worldwide UXO (unexploded ordnance) clearance program.
The more I thought about it the more appealing this sounded. It offered me a way to do something for MAG and actually go back to Cambodia and help the local people. Of course, if you think about it it's actually a bit silly. Why pay for the expenses of 20 people to fly them to Cambodia for a week while you could hire cheap, experienced labour forces locally? The trick of course is in the other half of the raised money. By organising the Challenge MAG is hoping to raise 40.000 pounds, not to mention create a lot of word-of-mouth and potential spin-off. The 20 volunteers are just a way to the means. Nothing wrong with that.
The whole idea kept wandering around the back of my mind.
A picture from Lesley's e-mail. Charity Marketing Lesson #1: show young kids.
The 'coincidence' of this request arriving just when I was discussing it with Ingmar. And the chance to do something without having to take any drastic measures to do so. And come to think of it, I had been toying with the idea of an additional trip at the end of the year anyway. So, maybe I should just do it. But would I be able to raise the money? I was pretty sure I would. As a matter of fact I would find it very reasonable to pay for 'my half' of the 3.000 GBP and half MAG's half sponsored. Hell, if I couldn't pull this off maybe I would pay for the whole thing myself. It just felt like something I had
to do. For myself, for MAG and for the people in Cambodia.
The more I tried to do other things over the weekend, the more it kept creeping back into my mind.
Picture from the 2009 Challenge.
I mailed some friends about my potential plans and found myself getting more and more excited every time I told someone about this (although I had to explain to one upset friend that I was not
going to clear landmines myself). When I told my 11 year old son he grinned at me and said: 'So, you're finally going to do something useful with your life?'
It was meant as a joke, he's a bit of a smartass he is. Still, I thought 'maybe you're right'. Maybe this was a step to something bigger in the long run. What's more, I could not think about any good reason not
to do it. Well, financial reasons perhaps, but since when should I consider these to be a major obstacle if this seemed like a must-do? It's like that T-shirt I bought after skydiving last year that says 'Happy are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to see them come true.'
Even if it's at the expense of my savings and other plans.
By Saturday 10 PM I couldn't take the restlessness anymore. I wrote Lesley of MAG an e-mail informing her that I was seriously considering joining the Challenge. I asked her a couple of practical questions and received her answer on Monday. On Tuesday I discussed my plans and restlessness with Juliette, my 'mental coach' in matters of doubt. As often, she provoked me just enough to give me that little extra push. On Tuesday evening I booked a ticket to Siem Reap and back and wrote Lesley an e-mail that I was in ...
To be continued.