Audrey’s Burma Bike Trip with Partners Asia

Audrey’s Burma Bike Trip with Partners Asia

Audrey Shiffman on Partners Asia Bike Trip

Audrey on Partners Asia Bike Trip

Several years ago I attended an event in which Therese Caouette of Partners Asia described the vulnerability of young women in rural Southeast Asia communities to human trafficking and outlined what can be done by those communities (e.g. education) to prevent such tragedies in the future. I was deeply affected by the exploitation and suffering.

Last year, my friend Linda mentioned that she was going to Burma. As part of her trip, she was participating in a guided bike tour as a fundraiser for Partners Asia. I instantly wanted to go. The requirement–aside from desire–was a $10,000 contribution to Asia Partners (Trip expenses were additional but reasonable.)

Since $10,000 is a lot of money, I decided to try and raise half the money and contribute the other half myself. I entered this challenge with trepidation: Whereas I am active in making donations, I felt shy about asking friends and family to donate money on my behalf. I worried my request would feel like an intrusion.

Pushing ahead, I carefully constructed a letter briefly describing the work of Partners Asia, outlining my trip, and then asking for a donation. To my astonishment, EVERYBODY contributed, along with enthusiastic words of encouragement and support. I was flabbergasted by the generosity.

Children at window

Children at window

My trip to Burma was a life changing experience. The people we met were uplifting. Their hope for a better future was both humbling and inspiring. After decades of oppression, the optimism, dedication, and hope for a better future was pervasive. The absence of bitterness was stunning. All they want is what we want – health, education, and opportunity. We met with many children and teens, and I was overwhelmed by their commitment to develop into well-educated functional citizens, despite their poverty.

When I returned, I wanted the people who contributed to know how much the experience meant to me and the importance of their contribution. In Burma, a small amount of money goes a long way. To thank my donors I hosted a Spring Myanmar Celebration at my home featuring Burmese food cooked by Project Feast and an update by Therese and Pwint Htun of Partners Asia on the fast pace of change in Burma today. To my delight, almost everyone showed up! The food was delicious, the update informative and stimulating, and all had a good time. I discovered from this experience that people are happy to give money to a cause that has meaning. My thank you party enabled us all to share that meaning.

Many Thanks, Audrey

Travel with Partners Asia: Bike Trip in Burma – Myanmar! – 2016