Toys from the ‘rebels’

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Christmas has passed but the season of giving certainly doesn’t end in December. Khmer Times’ Peter Olszewski writes about Rebels Motorcycle Club’s planned charity, Cambodia Toy Run, in Siem Reap, where underprivileged children on the outskirts of the city will receive gifts from old and new members of the riding club.

The Rebels Motorcycle Club will hold its annual Cambodia Toy Run for charity in Siem Reap this year for the first time, after a five-year history of the run in Sihanoukville.

Rebels Motorcycle Club spokesman Chris Tallis says holding the run in Siem Reap is a good way of introducing the club to the tourist-favourite town after the Rebel’s breakaway from Sihanoukville.

“Some of us went to Kampot and some came here,” he said. “We plan to officially open in Siem Reap in February (and) this is the first run in Siem Reap.

“Being new to Temple Town, it seemed a good way to get to know the town and the town to know its bikers, plus bring much needed stuff to poor kids and families.

“I got involved with toy runs five years ago when I moved to Sihanoukville and got involved with the Rebels Motorcycle Club. Toy Runs have been organised by bike clubs for over 40 years. So I followed their footsteps.”

“The toy run is open to anyone on any size of bike, who brings an unwrapped toy valued at $10 or less. This is one of the ways motorcycle clubs give back to our community. It gives people an opportunity to rub shoulders with club members – they quickly learn we are not the ogres the popular press make us out to be.”

Sihanoukville children enjoy their new toys from the 1st Toy Run. Supplied

The run, starting at midday on Sunday January 6, will be held in conjunction with local riding club, Dirty Cuts, and aims to deliver as many gifts as possible to underprivileged children in an area outside of Siem Reap city, and to raise funds to buy food for the “Kitchen of Hope” NGO to distribute.

Chris Tallis added that the main beneficiary of this year’s run, the “Kitchen of Hope”, was chosen because it is a small grassroots charity and any help provided goes directly to the kids and families.

The “Kitchen of Hope” opened in mid-December 2016 to initially provide about a hundred vegetarian meals to needy locals twice weekly, and to provide education.

The NGO, situated on the grounds of the Cambodia War Remnants Museum, was founded by New Zealander Sue Thompson who told local media that she had the support of the military because they gave her the go signal to set up a shop on the military land.

Now she has the support of motorcycle clubs, after being recommended by a fellow Kiwi.

“Apparently, another Kiwi was asked who would be a good recipient and he suggested Kitchen of Hope,” she says.

“I was absolutely delighted for the families in Mondul 111, especially the children. I can just imagine their excitement.”

Of course the big question is can Sue Thompson ride a motorcycle?

“I ride on the back of a motorbike only,” she says.

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