Bikers ride from Thailand to Cambodia for a good cause

Bikers ride from Thailand to Cambodia for a good cause

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Danish ambassador Mikael Hemniti Winther (third from left) revs up with fellow Go4 charity participants.

A partnership  between the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIPF) and the Thailand-based Go4 Charity Ride will soon be putting hundreds of helmets on childrens’ heads.

The two-day charity ride, led by Mikael Hemniti Winther, the Danish Ambassador based in Thailand, started on February 15 in Bangkok and finished in Phnom Penh with the purpose of donating helmets to communities in Cambodia.      

Ambassador Mikael Hemniti Winther, who once lived in Cambodia, came up with the idea after noticing that traffic accidents in Cambodia were a leading cause of injuries and deaths.

He and other expats in Thailand initiated the Go4 charity ride to promote road security in Cambodia.  

According to a report prepared by the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, traffic accidents in Cambodia caused 1,816 deaths and 6,718 serious injuries in 2010, costing the country approximately US$279 million that year.     

“I travelled in Cambodia for many years. I’ve been to many provinces by car or by different ways of transport, so I have seen the traffic here before,” said Winther.

 “People here ride motorbikes, but some of them don’t wear helmets.”

Seven others joined the ambassador for the ride, mounted on big motorbikes that are an unusual sight on Cambodia’s roads.

After starting their trip on Wednesday last week in Bangkok, they stayed one night in Battambang province and rolled into Phnom Penh the next day.

Money raised from donations prior to kicking off the journey will be donated to AIPF to buy helmets to give away in communities with road safety concerns.

“We’ve received strong support from very good sponsors, so we decided to come to Cambodia with big bikes to promote helmet use here,” said Ambassador Winther.

Kim Pagna, country director of AIPF, said his organisation has already received $10,000 from the charity, which he will be used to buy five hundred helmets for children and teachers at Prey Sandek primary school.        

“We chose Prey Sandek primary school in Takeo province because it is close to National Road Number 2, where many vehicles pass every day,” Kim Pagna said.

“The number of students who get into traffic accidents is very high. After buying helmets, we will use leftover donation money for education programs. It’s not enough to hand over helmets to children. We need to show them the right way to wear the helmet.”

Khim Sam Ol, the deputy director of Prek Sandek primary school, is happy that his school was selected to receive the helmets.

Prek Sandek primary school is about 85 kilometres from Phnom Penh, but students at his school have been in at least 17 traffic accidents since 2006, according to the director.

Nobody died, but some students have been sent to hospital in Phnom Penh due to serious injuries.

“I hope the helmets will help to protect children.” Khim Sam Ol said.

The big bike team already left Cambodia for Bangkok on Sunday, February 19, after handing over some helmets to the representatives of Prey Sandek high school, along with a donation for NGOs to run the safe road programs.

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