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One Foot in the Classroom, One Foot in the Desert

Newsletter PhotographMerry 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,

Steve McCutcheon

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Nearly all Pakistani's have a heart attack when I tell them I'm 27, single and without child. I was sat on the bus in the thick of it all, heading once again towards Rawalpindi. I glanced out of the window, I was back. Back in the land of minarets against the sunset, the wail of the Muezzin carried on the wind and the generosity of a nation unfurled in every new encounter. A thousand memories danced by the glass; horse stealing in Pari, the flaming heart of the Kohistani, the windy nights of Pathan and above all the memories of taking two Afghani horses through it all... Read More »

Latest Diary Entry photographLatest School Report
The jeep carried me high; high above the valley of nothingness, high to the school in a place of dreams that I was about to visit. Chapurson valley is the most northerly population in Pakistan, almost sitting astride the Afghan border. There probably wasn't a more remote location for the Government to take an interest in education, yet this was where I was heading now...

Other News

  • Read the full report from Balakot, one year after Pakistan's Earthquake last year. Read more
  • Every school visited last year has been updated with new progress reports. Read more
  • The R4E Photo Gallery has been updated with over one hundred new photos. See more

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© Copyright 2006 R4E | Sender: Stephen McCutcheon | Contact R4E