Cycles for Cycles is a joint project by SI Damansara, SI Melba, SI Singapore the project is located in Cambodia
President of the South West Pacific Theresa Lyford has tasked clubs with partnering with other clubs to provide quality projects which produce results.
Story by Theresa Devasahayam, Dr Saradha Narayanan, Kerry Beer and Linna Khorn
2016 saw three clubs from Soroptimist International of South West Pacific—SI Singapore, SI Damansara and SI Melba—engage in a joint project to raise funds for the purchase of bicycles for village malaria workers (VMWs) in Oddar Meanchey, a province in Northwest Cambodia.
Initiated by Past President fo SI Singapore, Theresa Devasahayam, US$ 20,000 was raised to purchase 199 bicycles for VMWs, seventy percent of whom are women, who volunteer in this role. Their role is particularly crucial especially since Cambodia has been battling drug resistant malaria in recent decades.
Village Malaria Workers or VMWs, as they are known, play an instrumental role in conducting the rapid diagnostic tests and dispensing medication to malaria patients in malaria endemic villages, in both high and low burden areas. These volunteers also play a vital role in monitoring bednet usage in the villages, in addition to gathering data on malaria prevalence. They also provide outreach health education using their interpersonal communication skills. Aware that many of the volunteers do not have means of transport and often find themselves having to walk to the homes of malaria patients and to the district health centres for the monthly malaria meeting, the three Soroptimist clubs decided to embark on this project, realising that bicycles would be critical in helping the VMWs conduct their work more efficiently.
In order to reach the target funds to purchase the total number of bicycles needed for the project, each of the three clubs organised cycling events in their respective cities. With the support of 7Cycle, SI Singapore organised the first cycling event in June 2016 in which 30 people participated. In November 2016, a second cycling event was organised, this time in conjunction with a barbeque along a beach front. SI Damansara organised their cycling event on 17 July 2016. It was an immensely successful event with more than a hundred cyclists participating and the project raised funds for 139 bicycles. The event also received media attention in which MayBank’s contribution to the project was highlighted in the local press.
IIn keeping with the Cycles for Cycles theme in November 2016 SI Melba held a lunch time fundraising function sponsored by Morgan Stanley’s Melbourne Office inviting guests to hear from Jess Gallagher, a legally blind young woman who is the only Australian athlete to have won medals at both the Summer and Winter Paralympics. Despite the challenges she faces, Jess has won bronze medals in both Skiing and Cycling. Jess’s fantastic story of how cycling helped her continue her athletic career despite losing her vision was the drawcard to the event. Then once attendees listened to the presentation by (then) SI Melba President Kerry Beer about the intent and expected outcomes from the Cycles for Cycles Project, our fundraising target was easily met,
In August 2016, two members from SI Damansara, Dr Saradha Narayanan and President Joanne Yeoh, visited the district hospital in Anlong Veng. In the same month, they together with President Theresa Devasahayam from SI Singapore attended a cheque presentation ceremony organised by MayBank held at the Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh in conjunction with the celebration of Malaysia’s Independence Day on 31 August 2016. Attending the ceremony were officials from the National Centre for Malaria and Oddar Meanchey Provincial Health Department together with staff from the University Research Co., LLC (URC) that had implemented the malaria prevention programme in Oddar Meanchey. In the later months of the same year, the first lot of bicycles—139 in total—was distributed to the VMWs.
In February and March 2017, a further sixty bicycles were delivered to the VMWs. Also in February 2017, Soroptimists Theresa Devasahayam and President Thavamani Kumar, from SI Singapore, together with Past President Kerry Beer and Susannah Dax from SI Melba, visited Anlong Veng where a bicycle presentation ceremony was held at the district hospital