Myanmore sits down with Jochen Meissner who will bike from Yangon to Singapore to give children on the streets of Yangon better lives.
Meissner came to Myanmar in 2012 and has built a life here since. He founded Uncharted Horizons in 2015, a cycling and trekking company based in downtown Yangon.
On August 26, he will cycle from Yangon to Singapore over a month to raise money for the street children of Yangon in collaboration with an Austrian NGO SONNE International. He will be accompanied by one of the guides from his tour company for the whole 3,000km.
Together they are hoping to raise 15,000 Euro (around 17,000 USD) to take forty street children to the new “SONNE Street Kid’s Centre” for a year, where they will provide health care, two meals a day, school uniforms, materials and classes with the objective of integrating these kids into a formal school system after a year.
1. How did you first think of this trip?
I love cycling and esp. long-distance cycling, so I had this idea in my head for a few years already. So when my friends from Sonne International NGO informed me about the new daycare center for street/slum children, I thought this would be perfect to combine – do what I love and help people in need at the same time.
2. What are the four countries you’re cycling to?
Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.
3. Myanmar’s roads are notoriously muddy in the rainy season. And there was recently a flood in Mon State. How did you prepare for any obstacles along the way?
We use mountain bikes and will stay on the main roads Yangon – Bago – Thathon – Hpa-An – Myawaddy. We are all experienced cyclists, so can handle bad roads well. The floods have fortunately receded already. In the worst-case scenario, we can also carry the bikes for some part of the way.
4. The trip is meant to raise money for 40 children on the street. Which parts of Yangon are they from? How did you come to know them?
The children are mostly from South Dagon (this is where the new daycare center has been built). Through Austrian NGO Sonne International – who already run 3 daycare centers for street children in Yangon and do other fantastic projects in countries such as India, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh. They are professionals with a big heart and a clear vision and good friends of mine. So I’m happy and proud that I can support them – and through that the people/children of Myanmar, the country which I love more than any other, which means everything to me, and in which I call my home since 7 years. I would do whatever I can to help those people in need, who have given me so much already, even though they have so little themselves. Myanmar is where my heart is at home, and whatever I can do to help, I will.
5. What’s your future plan for improving the less-fortunate community of the country?
I have my own tour company here (Uncharted Horizons Myanmar), and the more we grow, the bigger also our projects will become. We have built toilets and drinking-water stations in the slums of Dala, arranged operations for children with cleft palates, support orphans from conflict areas. We use a part of our profit and donations by our guests. The more guests we have, the more awareness we can create – and the bigger and more ambitious our projects will become. I have big plans and dreams here. We are just about to start.
To keep track of their journey:
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