BEL Rotarians Girv and Cheryl Devitt and Susan and Tony Davidson are seen with the 20 children who received bicycles thanks to the generous donation of the BEL Club.


During January and February 2014, the Devitts and Davidsons joined a team of Rotarians & Friends from across District 7010 (Ontario, Canada) to provide Cambodian children with bicycles enabling them to get to school. They were part of the third distribution trip to Cambodia, to provide bicycles to impoverished children across the country.

Sophea Keo was the team’s guide and 24’7 translator and took care of every need. He is one of the A Mine Free World Foundation and Banyan Learning Tree volunteers in Cambodia.

The bicycles are purchased in Japan and refurbished before being shipped to Cambodia.  The team’s work involved attaching the pedals, bells, baskets and brackets to the bicycles that were delivered by trucks to our distribution location sites. There was never any guarantee as to the condition of the bicycles when they arrived on site, so the team also made any adjustments and repairs necessary.

At each site the local dignitaries and school personnel had a ceremony planned which included speeches from the 7010 team as well as the local representatives. The overriding message that came through loudly and clearly was the high value of education that the Cambodian people felt and the deep gratitude for the bicycles – truly the gift of an education.

The team also took donated items – school supplies, toys and clothes, laptops and toothbrushes and toothpaste, which were distributed at each location and members from the local team provided a dental hygiene lesson, with demonstrations given by 7010 team members on ‘the proper way to brush’. Following the lesson, each child was provided with a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush.

The days were often long and the work hot (not that the team got any sympathy from friends and family at home enduring the minus 25 to 30 degree weather) but the rewards were huge.  The look on each of the children’s faces as they received their bicycle, their gift of a future said it all.  For a country with such a tragic past, accessibility to education is a tremendous gift.  The appreciation from the children, friends and family was clear!

For the team, this was in many ways a holiday with a purpose and there was opportunity to experience the beauty and the warm welcome of Cambodia.   The team enjoyed many village-level experiences including cooking, boating and the local Battambang ‘Bamboo Train’ as well as cultural experiences including Angkor Wat, the Killing Fields, Camp S-21 Genocide Museum, and the Royal Palace. There was even time to relax at the beautiful beaches of  Sihanoukville.

In summary, 28 team members led by Lisa McCoy and guide Sophea Keo, 12 villages and distribution sites, 1333 bicycles!  It was an amazing experience and the rewards were huge.  A huge thank you to the members of the BEL Rotary Club for their contribution.  Thanks to you, 20 children received bicycles and a chance to go to school.  Thank you is also extended to the individual members who made a donation.