For 10 years, buy more about SpiceRoads has supported the Thailand Tour of Hope, nurse a charity ride to fund underserved communities throughout Thailand. Each year, cyclists from all over the world gather in Thailand to ride a two-week course across the country and provide resources to those in need.
The Thailand Tour of Hope works with global charity leader WorldVision to fund projects in education and public health. Past rides have raised funds to build new libraries for rural communities, as well as to donate bikes to children in rural areas so that they may ride to school.
SpiceRoads interviewed the Thailand Tour of Hope founder, Hans Bock, about the charity and this year’s ride:
Tell us more about how the Thailand Tour of Hope was started. Was there a moment when you realized you could do something to help?
Over 10 years ago, myself and the other founders of the tour, had the idea of completing long distance cycling tours in Southeast Asia. At the same time, we wanted our efforts to go to a good cause and to fund some of the less privileged communities in the places we were visiting and riding through on our tour.
The Tour of Hope is now in its 10th year. Congratulations! How has the tour changed since you began in 2006?
Cycling in general has become much more popular over the years in Southeast Asia and Thailand and Singapore in particular. This means there are more riders interested completing a longer course like the Thailand Tour of Hope than there were 10 years ago. As the popularity of the sport grows, cyclists are looking for more ways to enjoy their ride, and riding for a cause is just one of those ways.
How does the Thailand Tour of Hope continue to positively impact communities in Thailand?
Our partnership with WorldVision has made huge strides toward ensuring successful funding of projects every year. WorldVision’s focus as a global charity organization is on the importance of education in communities of need. Our initiative to donate bikes to rural children isn’t just a passion project, it enables the kids to get to school in the first place. Simply having a bike makes all the difference for these children, literally changing their lives.
Why are health and education so important for under served communities in Thailand?
Health prevention and education have been shown, besides the provision of clean water, to be the most cost-effective means of intervention. A simple allocation of funds can make a huge difference to the health and education support in rural communities, and the funds we have been able to raise over the years make lasting improvements in the lives of the local people.
In the first five years the Thailand Tour of Hope supported the Johns Hopkins’ “Jhpiego” project for the secondary prevention of cervical cancer. In just 5 years supporting the project, we were able to support the training of over 1,000 nurses and perform potentially life-saving procedures on over half a million women.
In our second stage now we are working together with WorldVision on education initiatives and supporting local Thai communities with the donation of bicycles and libraries to selected schools and students in need. Each year we donate during the tour to communities along the route.
What have been some of your most exciting and memorable moments from the Tour of Hope over the past 10 years?
There have been so many over the years! Observing the joy in the kids’ eyes when they are given their own bicycle, is a big one. Overall it’s the feeling of simply being content with being able to give to those who need it most.
There is also the opportunity to meet like minded people and see our friendships grow over the years. I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones on the tour each year.
What do you want potential TOH riders to know about helping the people of Thailand?
The Thailand Tour of Hope is more than “just another cycling tour.” This is an opportunity to do charitable work through a trustworthy organization where almost all funds collected go to the cause directly. At the same time you can enjoy cycling through the Thai countryside and meeting local people, watch closely how they live, and support them on-site. Many participants over the years have described this as a life-changing experience.
With this year’s tour in the Northeast and East of Thailand we have not only chosen a very scenic route along the Mekong, but also a region with people in real need of help. The region has seen severe drought in recent years, and being predominantly agricultural communities, the drought has taken a toll on the communities’ overall quality of life. There are many things we can do to help, and this year’s tour aims to do just that!
The Thailand Tour of Hope is open to all cyclists in all levels of fitness and skill. Riders on the Thailand Tour of Hope must pay for their itinerary and are highly encouraged to raise funds for the cause.
To learn more about this year’s course and to sign up, visit our Thailand Tour of Hope 2016 info page here!
Or get inspired by watching these videos below produced by the Tour of Hope Organizing Committee.