Cyclo Challenge 2013 offers more fun and frolic

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Grand bazaar, cyclo décor contest to enliven day of giving to disadvantaged children in Vietnam


A snapshot from the Saigon Cyclo Challenge 2011 held by British NGO Saigon Children Charity to raise donations and help disadvantaged children in Vietnam. This year's race will be held on March 10 in District 7's Phu My Hung.

Vo Thi Diem is very eager to participate as a volunteer in a unique cyclo race to be held in Ho Chi Minh City next March an annual charity event that raises funds to help disadvantaged children and youth like herself.

The freshman with the HCMC Open University has been a beneficiary of the Saigon Children Charity (SCC), the race organizer, since she was a third grader in Tay Ninh Province's Duong Minh Chau District.

"I have received scholarships for the last 10 years, and I wish to do something to express my gratitude to SCC and their supporters," she told Vietweek. "Now that I am a student and living in HCMC, the Saigon Cyclo Challenge 2013 is a great chance for me to join and support this very meaningful charity event.

"I hope through this event, there will be a lot of disadvantaged children like me who will be lifted up with a better education," said Diem, who still receives scholarships from SCC to do her four-year university degree.

Diem is among thousands of Vietnamese children who have benefited from SCC over the past two decades.

Founded by a British school teacher in 1992, Saigon Children Charity has ceaselessly helped disadvantaged children escape the cycle of poverty by giving them "an education and a fairer start in life."

"As an organization it relies heavily on the generosity and good nature of others to do its work," said Paul Finnis, SCC's director.

"SCC raises around US$1 million every year from companies, charitable organizations and individuals all over the world. But as an NGO it also does whatever it can to generate funds for its programs on its own," he told Vietweek.


Cyclo Challenge wheels in money for children, aims to expand

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Finnis said SCC's local fundraising is mainly done by organizing a variety of special events in Vietnam, and foremost among these is the Cyclo Challenge, to be held for the 13th time this year.

Last year, the Saigon Cyclo Challenge raised more than $40,000 and attracted around 1,500 spectators who came to watch and cheer the only race in the world to feature Vietnam's iconic pedicab, called the Cyclo.  

The race will be held at the Crescent area in District 7's Phu My Hung on Sunday, March 10.

"As always, the race offers an exciting and fun opportunity for companies to demonstrate their community side whilst also benefitting from some unique and engaging team-building opportunities," Finnis said.

"Special additions for this year include the very first Charity Grand Bazaar with 50+ stall holders and a Cyclo Décor Challenge Road Show to freshen the event whilst preserving the day for family, children and community," he added.

Each year companies and individuals fight it out for the glory of being the Grand Charity Challenge trophy winners and, in 2013, organizations such as Pizza Hut, Giant Supermarkets, HSBC, Crown Relocation, TNK, and Hoang Long & Hoan Vu are already signed up to vie for the prize.

"This leaves just 3 spaces and, if you would like to be one of the racing teams in the 2013 Saigon Cyclo Challenge, you'll need to register pretty quickly to ensure you get a place. SCC also guarantees that at least 90 percent of the $5,000 race sponsorship fee will go directly into their programs," Finnis said.

An interesting part of the race this year is that one of the teams will be called the SCC All Stars - made up of riders who took part in a recent three-day bike ride from Hue to Hoi An - another event organized by the SCC.

In 2012, 34 cyclists pedaled through the 190 kilometers from Hue to Hoi An and in so doing raised $58,000.

"This race happens every year and is another great example of the organizations offering a variety of ways for people to get involved with SCC and raising some much-needed money and having some fun too," Finnis said.

In April this year, there is another bike ride that will require "substantial amount of stamina and time," he added.

For the last year, SCC has been involved with H2H a bicycle ride that takes nearly a month to get from Hanoi to HCMC.

"This is only for the most adventurous among you (and those of you with a month to spare!), but it is an exceptional and exciting adventure which you will remember forever," Finnis said.

If bicycles and cyclos are all too energetic for some philanthropists, SCC offers another option.

This year, SCC has launched their first photo book called "Saigon the Future."

The 150-page hardback contains photos taken by children and youth from 9 to 18 years old who have attended one of SCC's schools in HCMC and taken the photography class at Thang Long School at any time over the last 20 years.

Thang Long School in District 4 operates under SCC, offering vocational training and English classes for disadvantaged children.

Altogether SCC supports around 4,500 children every year, mainly in HCMC and nearby provinces including Dong Nai and Tay Ninh and the Mekong Delta provinces of Tien Giang and Tra Vinh.

Over the last 20 years since SCC started, it has built or repaired more than 300 school classrooms and supported many thousands of children and their families.


Examples of what $5,000 (the cost per Cyclo Challenge sponsorship) can do to change the lives of children in Vietnam:

- 50 young children from disadvantaged families to go to and stay in school for a whole year

- Bicycles for 55 children who live more than 5km from school

- Support three young people from poor backgrounds to obtain a full university degree (most likely the first in their family to get higher education)

- Run SCC's accredited IT classes for nearly a whole year to provide 65 young people with vocational training

- Equip two kindergarten classrooms with toys and educational equipment or develop an inspirational learning environment for 45 students in the Mekong Delta

SCC contacts

Nguyen Van Hoang
Head of Communications
Mobile: +84 123 815 7508

Do Thi Xuan Phuc
Communications Development Manager
Mobile: +84 913 117 006

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