Riding for a Cause

The eight cyclists set off from Muscat on a seven day trip to Salalah on Saturday morning (Muscat Daily)

Like a stone cast into water which sends ripples around, good deeds go a long way in dispersing their positive effects. And such an act of goodness is being performed by eight cyclists who are riding on an epic journey from Muscat to Salalah to raise funds for a charity called The Rainbow Centre in Sri Lanka.

The charity is located in Bentota, in south west Sri Lanka, a region that was severely struck by a tsunami in 2004. The area, which was already poverty-

ridden, was made worse by the natural calamity. The Rainbow Centre was thus set up to provide education, welfare and loving support to children from these impoverished backgrounds.

“We are raising money to help the school grow,” said David Graham, the chief force behind the fundraising event, and for whom the charity is a very dear cause. On the idea behind the cycling event, Chris Reijmer, one of the cyclists, said, “We wanted to challenge ourselves with a tough event, riding our bikes for seven days at an average of 200km per day, which is not a normal distance for most of us.

“We wanted to push ourselves and by doing so we can convince our friends, family and colleagues to donate for a good cause. We have been touched by the many generous donations so far, and this will positively change the life of many kids in Sri Lanka,” he added.

Armed with their cycling gear and loads of motivation and enthusiasm, the eight men began their journey in the wee hours of Saturday morning. The journey is scheduled to last seven days.

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Children at The Rainbow Centre

The team comprises six members from Muscat - David Graham of Oman Sail; Chris Reijmer of PDO; Sean Hennessey of African and Eastern; Severino Simeone of PDO; Yuri Lipkov of Qarat al Milh Petroleum; Nicholas Cole of Oman Airports Management Company; and two members from Canada - Wallace King, retired senior geologist and Patrick Dodge, vice president at Remington Development Corporation.

“Chris and I have cycled together for a long time…we have done events in  Europe and have been riding a lot around Muscat. It is such a wonderful way to see a country. If you go in a car, you miss things, but while cycling you are slow, you can stop by and chat with people on the road and get invited by local people to their homes thanks to the wonderful Omani culture,” said Graham.

None of the members of the group are professional cyclists. “It’s a social ride. It’s a nice diverse group of cyclists – we all work at different places with different kinds of jobs, having a common passion for cycling,” said Reijmer.

A little more than £7,500 has been raised at present. Graham and Reijmer are thankful at the tremendous response and support they have received from everyone around. Reijmer mentions how his eldest son in high-school was able to garner a lot of money from his school. The two cyclists have words of praise for their family, friends, and colleagues who have helped them in their noble cause. They have also received support from PDO, Crowne Plaza and Oman Air.

At The Rainbow Centre, all teachers are sent on government accredited training courses. The Rainbow Centre runs its pre-school according to a national curriculum, but also gives extra classes in English, Maths, General Knowledge and Art. To date, the Rainbow Centre has placed a total of 140 children in the mainstream system, mostly from its pre-school.

The centre has a pre-school, nursery and day school. The classrooms can accommodate 40 children. It is to accommodate the growing number of children that an extra classroom is going to be built, and the cycling event aims to raise £10,000 towards this initiative.

For more details, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Salalah-Muscat

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