One Foot in the Classroom, One Foot in the Desert
Merry Christmas one and all and an early toast to a Happy New Year. Eight months have passed extremely quickly and with Christmas upon us, an update is due.
First off, I'd like to appreciate everyone's patience with the journey so far. For anyone who knows me, they will understand my desire to see this journey through properly not poorly. The greatest challenges lie in the eye of the beholder and its to the real challenge of this journey that I begin with.
Riding for Education has raised £1523-08 for ActionAid International to build more schools and support the education of thousands more across India, Pakistan and China. Thankyou to everyone who has donated so far. Yet the amount raised is far short of the ride's goal of £100,000 and I can only pin this on myself for not trying hard enough. So as preparation nears completion, I'm asking everyone now, for the first time, "please donate to the ride and help me meet its goal." On the 31st March 2007 I shall leave Kashgar for Beijing and I'm setting a target of £10,000 to raise by that time, which is not only achievable but absolutely necessary in order to keep on track.
Summer in Kashgar was hot and dusty, especially in the Internet cafes in which I lived. Eight months on and it's my pleasure to now welcome on board sponsorships with:
Further, Kashgar Mountaineering Adventures has stepped in to fill the logistical void that man, camel and China invariably bring together and Vettec Ltd has once again safeguarded the ride's future through their supremely practical Superfast product.
As the sun beat here, the ride also shone out as several page features from the pages of UK magazines; Lancashire Life and Scouting Magazine as well as several International Publications.
The Riding for Education website took another investment in time and learning. Automating the site to receive updates and schools reports by satellite phone wasn't an easy task, but it kept development costs down and added a slew of new features to ensure that this journey will meet as many eyes, ears and voices around the world as possible.
My leaving date is finally on the 31st March 2007, to give time to tackle the challenge of learning two languages; Chinese and Uighur and to wait out the ferocity of the desert winter. The time also allowed a visit to Pakistan and India to work further on the ride's documentary and to revisit many of the schools and memories from last year's crossing.
Keeping costs down this winter is important and doing something worthwhile even more so. On the 17th December I arrived in Dunhuang to spend the snowy months teaching English at a poor Government school at the end of the Great Wall of China - more on that to come. Till the time I leave, there's still plenty to do; camels to buy, guides to find and skills to learn. In the meantime, once again please help by making a donation to the campaign this Christmas and getting the final leg of the journey off to a flying start on the road to Beijing.
Best Wishes for the New Year,
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