Cycling for African Australians and Cambodians

“The west was lost long before we got here.”

In 2012, The Age newspaper exclaimed that Melbourne’s west, and particularly its suburb of Footscray, had been “lost” as young African Australians were turning to alcohol and drugs. The quote above was an eloquent riposte from one of the young African Australians living there, and who has shown great leadership in his community to ensure fewer people are lost to alcohol and drugs.


People involved in cohealth Arts Generator’s Benchmark program who make and perform music in public space. The sessions use song and freestyling to talk about issues important to them and their community.

One of the programs in my team at work, Arts Generator, works closely with young African Australians to help them deal with a past of civil war and sometimes child soldiering whilst living in a country and society that they can feel alienated from. The program uses arts to help people tell the stories of their culture and their lives, in a country where understanding can be pretty low. This music video was produced by Arts Generator with those young people and is entitled See What I’ve Seen.

Most people in Melbourne refer to the area as Foot-scary, whilst the few that go there find a diversity and vibrancy unlike anywhere else in Melbourne. There are people of real talent as seen in the video above and in this series of short videos that we helped young African Australians make to persuade young African Australians to drink less.

African street, Footscray

Footscray is now home to a growing African population and some of the main streets are now visibly African, rather than Asian.

On 2nd April, I and 11 colleagues will cycle a total of 520km (I’ll do 260+km) in 24 hours to raise funds for the work of Arts Generator. That’s the same as from the Scottish border to London; or nearly as far so going from Phnom Penh to Battambang and back again; and is way more than half of Melbourne to Sydney.

Footscray is made up of people from all over the world – Vietnamese, Chinese, the horn of Africa, north Africa, Europe, the Americas and on. It’s what makes it a bit special, and hopefully one of the reasons why no matter where you are in the world, you will give to support Arts Generator and the work it does in these communities.

You can give via this link if in or outside of Australia and it accepts debit/credit cards from Australia and other countries. 

Another reason is that what you give, I’ll match it dollar for dollar. Not only will the people of Footscray benefit but so will children in Cambodia.

During my near three years in Cambodia, there were many people that I was in awe of. One of these people is a VSO volunteer, Pamela, who has been training teachers since 2005. For years, she has been helping the Ministry of Education develop a curriculum, teaching manuals, textbooks and training to enable kids to learn English. More than that, in a country where virtually every teacher died during the Khmer Rouge and years of civil war, she’s been rebuilding the knowledge lost of teaching methods and how they can be applied.

The Minister of Education and wider Government view teaching English as crucial to helping people in jobs and earning a living. But in a country where very few are able to speak English, teaching it becomes a rather large problem.


You can probably tell which one Pamela is. Here she is working on teaching methods with teachers in Kampot province, Cambodia.

An initiative that Pamela is working on with teacher training colleges is to help newly qualified teachers be prepared to teach English. I’ve made a promise to support that work, but short of cycling cycling 520km twice, I need your help.

Sponsor me to do the cycle, and I’ll match what is given by donating to Cambodia. I want to give $2k; the more you give, the closer I’ll get to that target. Give and you’ll be supporting young Africans Australians and young Cambodians. It’s the best 2 for 1 deal you will find.

Audio - BEL

One of the last things I was involved in was a project to develop audio recordings that would help teachers and students practice pronunciation and listening skills. You can read more about that project in this newspaper article.

Teacher trainees

Teacher trainees in Svay Rieng, Cambodia who are learning how to teach English. You can find out more about the Basic English Language project on the project’s Facebook page.

Cycling those last few kilometres with an aching bum and back will be a lot more bearable knowing that there will be a lot of people supporting me, and supporting young African Australians and Cambodians. Just make sure to mention my name in the comment section or send me a message to let me what know you’ve given and I will match it.

I’m always very grateful for how much friends and family have supported me. I owe you a big thank you.


PS. Just to complete the awe-inspiring nature of Pamela, her husband, as a volunteer, has helped to invent machines and technology that make mine clearing a whole lot safer in Cambodia. They’re a pretty special couple.

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1 Response to Cycling for African Australians and Cambodians

  1. Pingback: Liveable Melbourne: superior, pretentious…pleasant | Stories of Australia

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