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Pedal-power provides opportunity for the disadvantaged

By Hoang Tao   December 19, 2019 | 05:37 am PT
Pedal-power provides opportunity for the disadvantaged
Marco Liguori, an Italian native and his wife, Aurelie Cambon from France quit their jobs and began their cycling journey in 2018. Photo courtesy of Marco Liguori and Aurelie Cambon.
Two years in the saddle sees Italian-French duo raise thousands of euros, donating bicycles and wheelchairs to those in need.

Crisscrossing 25th destination Vietnam in only 20 days, Italian Marco Liguori and French partner Aurelie Cambon took in prized destinations like Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, not to mention spectacular centrally located beaches.

Aurelie grew enchanted by the natural scenery and friendly locals who always greeted the couple with warm smiles.

Their most memorable experience occurred when first arriving in the country via Nam Can border gate in central Nghe An Province where a local woman invited them to stay the night.

Aurelie recalls it was late afternoon, and despite the woman only knowing the words "home" and "sleep", her warm hospitality afforded them deeper insight into local customs.

The Italian-French couple and some of the girls in Nepal they have donated bikes to. Photo courtesy of Marco Liguori and Aurelie Cambon

A brand-new ride in Nepal. Photo courtesy of Marco Liguori and Aurelie Cambon.

Marco and Aurelie, both 36, began their journey in Helsinki, Finland last April, travelling 24,000 kilometers to date.

The couple’s inspiration stemmed from a 2015 documentary on a man who cycled from Spain to India. "If I can do it, you can do it too," Mark said, explaining they moved to a smaller apartment, worked more hours, and refrained from eating out and entertainment to realize their dream.

Time in the saddle was equally important, with four day trips soon turning into 15 day adventures. They sold their car, two out of their eight bicycles and other unnecessary items to fund the trip. However, they wanted nothing less than to embark on a generic bike ride.

Aurelie said they want to show people bicycles could help make the world a little better.

The couple drew up plans and set up bank accounts to receive donations in order to provide bicycles to girls and wheelchairs to the disabled in poor countries. At first the donations were small and slow paced. 

Their original goal was 5,000 EUR, though the sum now totals 6,000 EUR and counting. Marco said they decided to double the original 5,000 EUR.

They’ve met many other cyclists on their journey, with whom to share ideas and stories, as well as encouragement. Some have since donated money to their cause.

The cyclist couple believe their gifts will help the recipients to reach their goals. Photo courtesy of Marco Liguori and Aurelie Cambon

The cyclists believe their gifts can help recipients realize their own goals. Photo courtesy of Marco Liguori and Aurelie Cambon.

With the aid of two NGOs, the couple has donated 20 bicycles to girls and specialized bicycles to several handicapped riders in Nepal and other poverty-striken countries.

"We want the girls to return to school. It's easier for them to get there on a bicycle, which boosts their confidence, while it’s also faster and safer. Going to school will enable them to access better jobs and life quality," Marco noted.

"Bicycles will help the disabled have more fun, improve their health and uplift their spirits. It could also help them search for work independently."

Next February, Marco and Aurelie will donate an additional 20 bicycles to children in Cambodia.

After covering thousands of kilometers, Marco and Aurelie have experienced intimate relationships with many locals, immersed in local culture.

Looking ahead, the couple plans to visit many other areas across in Vietnam, especially coastal villages that often remind Marco of his hometown in Italy.

They plan to celebrate Christmas and New Year in Ho Chi Minh City with their family and relatives.

In April 2020, their two-year journey will come to an end in Singapore.

"We will return to Europe, find new jobs and save money. Maybe, after a few years we will ride again," the two said, giggling.

 
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