“a life to which I feel myself a stranger.” -Swiss Long Rider Ella Maillart

A welcome update from Marc on his Long Saunter South through Central and South America, where he raised money and awareness for children in orphanages and special needs schools, and news of Red, his faithful steed!

The Long Saunter South

Several months ago I returned home, to my loving family whom have been there with me every step of this journey. Still, months later it does not feel real. Taking in what happened and feeling out of place in my home town. It can be hard to process the changes that occur, not only within but the advances in the “civilised world” wifi, fingerprint recognition, smart phones, faster connections and no, I am not on snapchat. A lot can change in four years. Life seemed a lot more simple out on the road ….. however, I am not missing the chicken soup.

Lotus-Root-Rice-Bean-and-Chicken-Feet-Soup

Red, my horse, I am reliably informed is doing well, I wake every morning thinking of him, sometimes still disorientated enough that I jump up shouting his name, looking for him. He is safe and healthy with the wonderful family I got to spend time with in Ecuador…

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Garden Glove Love

This is such a simple but potentially life-changing scheme initiated by pioneering the simple life: collect discarded/lost gardening gloves, pair them up and send to Nepal to help child rag pickers protect themselves from glass, excrement, chemicals, and infections. We should all get behind this: we’ll be searching the shed, the cupboard under the utility room sink and collecting from our neighbours and family – it may take some time, we are spread over the country, but eventually we’ll parcel them up and send them off. Great idea!

Update: 3 days later, we have the beginnings of a collection!

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Pioneering The Simple Life

Roadside Garden Glove. Photo © Finn Clark

It all started on a bike ride. We kept seeing garden gloves along the side of the road. In fact, we had seen the gloves lying there for weeks and finally decided to pick them up. One by one, over the course of about 2 weeks, we had managed to collect 20 pairs!

I Have Good Garden Glove Karma. Photo © Liesl Clark

We’re an island of avid gardeners, farmers, and a world-famous garden tour called “Bainbridge in Bloom.” Twelve months of gardening weather here on Puget Sound has afforded us 4 seasons of dirt digging. The problem is that the gardeners’ (or perhaps it’s the hired landscapers’) gloves too often end up along the sides of the roads, having fallen from the backs of landscaper’s trucks, farmers’ tractors, or islander’s cars. Being a food-grower myself, I couldn’t just let those gloves rot in the ditches.

Garden Gloves Rain or Shine. Photo © Finn Clark

My children and I have been collecting them: pulling to the side…

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How Underground Networks Can Outperform Aid Orgs

We all sit at home watching or reading the news about disasters such as last year’s earthquake in Nepal and, other than donating money to relief organisations, we think there’s nothing else to be done and move on to the next news item. With supplies being tied up in red tape, stolen or resold at exorbitant prices and eventually running out, these individuals looked at the bigger picture and via social media organised an underground relief network that really did make a difference to many villagers who might otherwise have perished. With so many disasters of one kind or another in the world, it can often be overwhelming if not paralysing. This article shows how it can be done and will hopefully stir others into action. Please read and repost.

Pioneering The Simple Life

It was less than a week after the April 25th, 2015 magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal that we came to realize little-to-no relief had reached villages beyond Kathmandu. Roads were dangerous; But even worse, as time progressed, supplies for temporary shelter for the over 2 million now homeless had dried up. Tents and tarps were sold out in Kathmandu. Foreign governments and aid organizations were being shut down at the airport, their incoming supplies requisitioned by Nepal customs, and much-needed food, tents, tarps, blankets, and medical supplies were sitting on the runway, tied up in a confounding wad of red tape. 

7_Damaged house.anup © Anup Gurung

Our friends in Nepal were frantic, texting us asking for any means to get materials over to the remote villages. Aid organizations trucking supplies to villages were stopped along the roads by desperate, angry, and hungry people who lived right along the road who also had seen no relief. Supplies were…

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Passing It Forward

Many years ago, a good friend was visiting from overseas with her young daughters. Of course, despite only being September, the weather was wet, grey and chilly. She observed me struggling to dry the family’s clothes on a plastic airer in front of a heating vent on the wall of our tiny kitchen. There was nowhere else to dry them and we had problems with condensation and damp.

My friend insisted on buying us a drier. It made life so much easier and I never forgot her generosity.

Several years later, when our circumstances were much improved, I became aware that another friend, a lone parent with a young child, was in difficulties: her ancient fridge freezer had finally given up the ghost and she had no money to replace it.

I gladly offered to buy her a new one.

I was, as the Americans phrase it, ‘passing it forward’ and it felt good to repay the original act of kindness in this way. I knew the second friend would do the same when she was able.

These gifts were expensive but much-appreciated, they enhanced the lives of the recipients for a very long time.

But it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money – or even any money – to Pass It Forward.

Next time you do a clear-out of your wardrobe, your loft, your children’s toys, your shed or garage, think carefully about who might benefit from your passing it on. The local charity shops will welcome clean, useable clothing, toys, kitchenware and so on, many even take small working electrical goods. Playgroups and nurseries are sometimes short of good quality toys, books and play equipment. Women’s Refuges are often crying out for clothing and baby equipment.

We sometimes send books and refurbished bikes to our local Combat Stress centre.

Occasionally, we put an item at our gate with a note saying ‘free if you take it away’ or a serviced secondhand bike with a minimal price on which is donated to our local hospice.

Remember all those times when you were in need and someone helped you out, then pass it forward when your circumstances allow it. It can even just be the giving of your time.

I promise you, the recipient won’t be the only one who benefits.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Time to make a difference

Read about Marc’s journey through Central and South America, first by ATV then on horseback, volunteering for children’s charities in orphanages and schools, helping children with HIV and disabilities and coaching young athletes with Olympic dreams. Truly inspirational reading.

The Long Saunter South

Taxco, Mexico 2012. Jumping on an ATV I set my sights on Peru. Nearly four years later, 5000kms by ATV, 6000kms on horseback and after the most testing, rewarding and eye opening years of my life we are close to realising the goal. To make a difference.

I had previously  reached out to children’s charities in each of the eleven countries I planned to pass, hoping to volunteer with and raise funding for each of the chosen organisations. Never could I have hoped to connect with so many wonderful people or be fortunate enough to be given the opportunities handed to me. From seeing the courage of children born with HIV to having the honour of coaching disabled athletes aiming to compete for a place in the Paralympics.

Too much for one blog so we start at the beginning, Oaxaca, Mexico and my very first volunteer location.

376669_336214746466440_2067175528_n“Harold and Jodi Bauman…

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