‘All for charity”: Aussie on 10-nation trip

Published: 15/03/2011 05:00



On a
grey afternoon last week, Morgan Parker arrived in Tam Dao National Park near Ha
Noi on a huge, mud splattered motorbike. He was on the eighth day of a 100-day
expedition to raise money and awareness for Asian charities.

Morgan Parker (right)
and Animals Asia Foundation founder Jill Robinson in the bear operation room in
Moon Bear Rescue Centre in the national park in Tam Dao. — VNS File Photo

“I’ve been riding 12
hours a day for the last three days,” said the smiling 36-year-old as he hopped
off his bike. “Yesterday I did 100km in mud, 75km in China’s mud and 25km in
Viet Nam’s mud.” Parker hopes to finish his epic journey in June.

Viet Nam was his third
destination after leaving Hong Kong on March 1. Two years ago, Parker quit his
job as an investment banking official in Hong Kong and started preparing for his

“I think my life was
becoming kind of shallow,” he recalled. “If you just want more and more money,
you became narrow in your thinking and you start to miss out what the world is
really about. I want to have more dimension in my life,” he said. “This has been
growing in my mind for many years.”

In 2009, Parker
founded the Wheel2wheel Foundation (http://www.wheel2 wheel.tv) with eight other
volunteers. His idea was not to help just one charity, but to raise money for 10
by riding his motorbike 20,000km across 10 different countries.

He is now well on his
way to channelling money to a charitable organisations in each one, mostly by
publicising his trip on a blog, using videos, photos and a running account of
his activities. Equipped with a helmet camera, a bike camera and a handheld
camera, he travels with a Hong Kong-based film crew.

From his home in
Australia, his trip takes him to Hong Kong, mainland China, Viet Nam, Laos,
Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Timor Leste. In Viet Nam, he chose
as his charity the Animals Asia Foundation (AAF), the first bear-rescue centre
in a nation where bear bile is sold to local and Asian tourists seeking

Founded in 1998 by
Jill Robinson in Hong Kong, AAF was inspired by the suffering of wild moon
bears, penned in small cages that are regularly “milked” for their bile through
an incision. The organisation aims to end the barbaric practice – and the
suffering of more than 14,000 bears trapped in misery. In 2005, the foundation
signed an agreement with Vietnamese authorities to rescue 200 bears from farms
around Ha Noi.

It built a
professional bear sanctuary in Tam Dao National Park where 71 rescued bears are
today living in peace. To date, the foundation has rescued more than 280 bears
in China and Viet Nam. The organisation estimates there are still more than
4,000 of the poor creatures illegally hidden on Vietnamese farms for bile

“We’re delighted to
welcome people like Parker because they really can spread the message in a
different way,” said AAF founder, Hong Kong-based Jill Robinson. “It’s so
innovative and exciting.”

Parker is happy to
contribute. He said: “I want people to know about the AAF, but the bigger
message is that I want people to understand that we are all responsible as
citizens of this planet. The world doesn’t stop at borders. People create
borders. I hope they understand that they are citizens of the world first, then
members of a country second”.

Throughout his
journey, Parker wants people to know about the charities he has chosen to
support: Clean Air Network in Hong Kong, Gecko in mainland China, Animals Asia
in Viet Nam, Child’s Dream in Laos, New Hope in Cambodia, Baan Gerda in
Thailand, Women’s Aid Organisation in Malaysia, Paneco in Indonesia, Action for
Change Foundation in Timor Leste, and Nailsma in Australia.

“It’s very difficult
to get someone to donate immediately. They need a connection. Wheel2wheel
provides them with one.”

Parker and his team
are writing blogs and uploading photos and videos every day of the 100-day trip.
A film crew is following to make a 10- episode television series. The series
will eventually be broadcast on National Geographic channel.

In the two years
before his trip, Parker thoroughly researched hundreds of charities across Asia.
He also visited many of them to pick what he considered the 10 most deserving.

“My criteria was that
it must be an organisation doing an excellent job, but one that was not yet well
recognised,” said Parker. Five out of 10 charities he picked are involved with
environmental issues.

In those two years, he
raised a total of US$100,000 to kick-start his fund by sharing the project idea
with many people. He plans to allocate the money equally to his chosen

Last Saturday, Parker
left Viet Nam and headed to Luang Prabang in Laos. “I will come back to central
Viet Nam in April, but next time, it will only be for pleasure,” he said, adding
that he loved the smiling people and cooking of Viet Nam.

Nam News

Provide by Vietnam Travel

‘All for charity”: Aussie on 10-nation trip - International - News |  vietnam travel company

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