Overview of Side by Side

Emily Williamson Writes,

A major part of our fundraising strategy at REACH involves sweat, lycra and pushing it to the limit.

The concept of our ‘Side by Side’ ride originated as a response to the pandemic induced cancellation of our major international charity bike ride in 2021.

When we were forced to think outside the square, something very special happened… we stumbled across an idea to run a student led event, with international supporters participating overseas. The primary goal of this event was to raise critical funds to support our programs. What we could have never envisaged, was just how meaningful this event would end up being for our students.

The months of training in the lead up to the event gave the youths a purpose in life outside of providing for their families. Cycling long distances exposed our students from insular communities to the outside world, they forged bonds with their classmates while learning invaluable team building and leadership skills.

The benefits were so profound, that soon after our first Side by Side event in 2021, we decided to create the REACH Riders Club; a cycling club program for our youth that now operates year round.

Now, kids, supporters and team gear up every year to participate in life changing challenges in support of our community. These shared experiences aim to raise awareness, promote good health and show the world the lengths we will go to for REACH’s kids and their families.

Sreynich’s involvement and the impact her involvement has for Side by Side

Sreynich is a local Cambodian woman who approached us in December with the goal of participating in our 200km challenge.

Unlike most competitors, who live overseas and are participating with our kids from a far, Sreynich lives locally and shares a similar background as that of our kids. From humble beginnings, she is paving the way for young Cambodians, to act as a leader and mentor for the next generation.

 Overcoming adversity, Sreynich wants to show the local Khmer population that regardless of their socio-economic status, they too can be involved in fundraising, and advocating for their community.

When Sreynich saw our promotional posts for the even on social media, with a love for cycling, she immediately knew she wanted to be involved. And so, she got on her sturdy old city bike and cycled the 55km return trip from her village in Pouk district, to our campus in Thlok Andoung to learn about our cause and discuss the event with our team.

After understanding more about REACH’s mission to stand along side Cambodian families, in their fight against poverty, Sreynich immediately signed up. But Sreynich’s own personal goal, is arguably much greater than our kids… why? Because she is aiming to do the entire 200km solo, on her second-hand city bike!

Having Sreynich sign up for our event, has been a real turning point for REACH Siem Reap, and our Side by Side ride. We are into our third year of operating the event, and she is the first local to find out about our challenge and register to raise funds in her village.

Her reasons of inspiring the next generation, gave us great motivation, that the Side-by-Side event is now able to encourage not only our own students, but also the wider community.

She has inspired us beyond belief, and we are very excited to share that she will be cycling the last 45km of the challenge with our kids, through the gates of our Finish Line on Sunday the 15th of January.

What message do we want to share about Side by Side?

Following Srey Nich’s registration, we want to share the Side by Side event with more local participants for years to come.

In future events, we hope to encourage more Cambodian’s to sign up for the event, but for 2023, we’d love to invite you to support Srey Nich on her 200km challenge for our kids and their families: https://khmercare.com/en/raise-funds/b3e6892c-0366-47e3-9577-a01023339aa3

Goals of our event

GOAL 1

Raising substantial funds to support our poverty alleviation projects for more than 100 families living in abject poverty.

GOAL 2

Empowering youth to believe in themselves by actively competing in a challenge that supports their future, and the future of their community.

GOAL 3

Connecting our supporters globally, creating a shared experience to raise awareness and motivate our REACH community far & wide.

About REACH & the Founder

Founded by Emily Williamson in August 2019, REACH Siem Reap opened the gates of our community centre on the 4th of March, 2020.

Emily Williamson

 With our goal to improve the living conditions of Cambodian families living in abject poverty, we work alongside guardians to support their basic needs so that their children can continue their education.

Emily first came to Cambodia when she was 18 years old; with strong ties to South East Asia growing up, she immediately fell in love with the country, and was devastated by the day to day plight of the local population. Growing up in Australia, she was hit hard by the harsh reality of poverty and wanted to do something to make a difference.

Like most international development workers, she started off as a volunteer at a local NGO, where she spent several years learning in-depth about various approaches to poverty alleviation, and also established long distance charity bike rides across Cambodia.

In 2019, after having identified serious need in Thlok Andoung Village, Emily and Co-Founder John Ioannou, registered REACH Siem Reap, both in Australia and Cambodia.

They opened the gates of the community school at the very beginning of a global pandemic, during a period when the entire world was suffering, devastation was rampant and the need for support extended not just to those living in developing nations, but to everyday people, living across every, single, country.

Since then, the team at REACH have worked tirelessly to develop 11 integrated programs for impoverished kids and their families.

REACH’s sole purpose is to stand alongside Cambodian families in their fight against poverty.

 To do this, we enroll entire families into our program, supporting their children from the age of 5 years old, right through until they graduate high school and we can support them in their pursuit of a brighter future.

 3 years into our operations, we are able to see first-hand the impact our integrated offerings are having on that of our beneficiaries. With daily school meals, free education and access to healthcare and holistic support for their guardians, the REACH children are really starting to flourish.

 What we envision for the future of REACH is to see to it that our youth cohort progress on with their lives to see themselves in higher education or vocational training and with access to good opportunities to better their lives. The final step in our mission strategy is to see our youths gain employment.

 This stage does not confine itself solely to the getting our youths into the workforce, but also providing them with access to scholarships that would afford them this choice. A choice to pursue tertiary education or vocational training that will grant a myriad of opportunities for them to choose from depending on what they want for themselves.

 Our Youth Pathways program works steadily to prepare our cohorts for this next step. In our most recent blog post, we detailed just how pivotal this program is to furthering our mission and in helping us reach our goals. Click here to have a read.

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