Wheelin' and dealin' for Asian NGOs

Wheelin' and dealin' for Asian NGOs

Filming for a National Geographic documentary series wrapped up in Siem Reap two weeks ago following the departure of Morgan Parker, a Hong Kong-based luxury retail guru and president of regional shopping mall planners Taubman Asia.

Australian-born Parker is partway through a 10-country motorcycle ride through Southeast Asia, and the as-yet unnamed docco is influenced by the BBC series Long Way Round starring Ewan McGregor.

Parker told 7Days that the Wheel2Wheel NGO documentary project aims to draw attention to the work of a different NGO in each of the countries he visits, with each organisation featuring in a one-hour episode of the series which will air on the National Geographic channel later this year.

Parker, who has also worked as an investment banker and property developer in Hong Kong, started Wheel2Wheel in 2009.

He said he had been thinking of setting out on a transcontinental motorcycle trip since 2006 as part of a “mid-life enlightenment” before deciding to combine the expedition with philanthropic work.

“Three years after I first had the idea I started becoming more philanthropically active, and I was giving away a set proportion of my income to charities. It occurred to me I should be putting that money to use in a way I thought was creating the maximum possible benefit.”

Parker eventually settled on the idea of self-funding a documentary series offering handpicked charities the opportunity to impress a global audience with their work and then reap the fundraising benefits of their increased publicity.

After spending two years planning the trip and selecting 10 charities to support, Parker set out on his 20,000-kilometre expedition, leaving Hong Kong on March 1 and passing through China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand before arriving in Cambodia just over one month later.

For the Siem Reap leg of his trip, Parker and the nine staff at Wheel2Wheel selected New Hope, an NGO active in Cambodia since 2007, as the featured charity out of an initial list of 30.

“During pre-trip planning we spent around $100,000 which includes money spent vetting all 10 charities. I can’t speak highly enough about the principles at New Hope and how they’ve impressed me.”

Parker told 7Days that Wheel2Wheel has already raised over $160,000 for the charities involved in the project and that he has a fundraising target of $1 million over the next seven months.

Before leaving Siem Reap after the completion of five days of filming at and around New Hope’s school in Mondul 3 village, Parker was joined by his seven-year-old daughter Aria who flew in for a visit.
He said: “My mother brought Aria out because of Angkor Wat and the beauty of Siem Reap.”

A 10-episode series based on the Wheel2Wheel expedition will screen on the National Geographic channel later this year.

MOST VIEWED

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said

  • CPP: ‘Behave or Sokha suffers’

    The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman warned Kem Monovithya on Thursday that her attempt to damage “national reputation and prestige” would lead to her father, Kem Sokha, receiving even harsher punishment. Sok Eysan issued the warning as Monovithya, who is the court dissolved

  • Preah Sihanouk beach developments halted

    After receiving an order from Hun Sen, Minister of Land Management Chea Sophara led a team of experts and relevant officials to Sihanoukville to call a halt to the illegal development of a beach. The prime minister ordered the Prek Treng beach in Otres commune