Stories

It was a chilly but beautiful morning on Bondi Beach. While the iconic Sydney eastern suburb usually teems with beachgoers, attracting a lively mix of locals and travellers, there were more runners than surfers on this particular morning.

Over just a few hours, thousands of people had descended on the beachfront as part of Sydney’s annual City2Surf fun run. There was a sense of accomplishment among the crowd, not only because they had completed the 14km course from Hyde Park, but because they had contributed to something much bigger.

About 80,000 people took part in this year’s City2Surf on 12 August, raising money to support charity.

Among the participants on the day was a team of eight, sporting big smiles and bright green T-shirts.

For the past five years, Melissa Rhodes-Smith (pictured above, far left) and her family and friends have taken part in the City2Surf to raise money for ChildFund.

Last year three generations of the Rhodes family participated in the event, and this year was no different.

“Doing the City2Surf as a family is just so great, especially having the kids come along,” Melissa says. “Seeing them with the grandpas on the walk is such a pleasure.

“It is a really good chance to spend some nice, quality time together.”

For Melissa’s son Elliot, this year’s City2Surf was his first. He finished the event triumphantly, alongside his older brother Marshall, 10, and second cousin Nash, 11.

“Each year we seem to get an extra family member join us!” Melissa says. “Elliot is only eight, so I was really proud of him.”

In late 2017 a few members of our family donated a postie bike to ChildFund Australia to assist them with their work in Cambodia.

The classic postie bike, which we know so well in Australia for delivering our mail and parcels, enables ChildFund to deliver much needed supplies such as food, water and vaccinations to remote communities in Cambodia.

This year we travelled to Kratie Province, in northeast Cambodia, to deliver the bike. On that trip we visited some extremely poor and remote communities. They were some of the poorest communities in an already very poor country.

When we visited community mothers’ groups and primary schools we were stunned by the extent to which a lack of access to clean safe water impacted the lives of babies and children.

Cambodia has an extremely high level of child malnutrition and a lot of this can be attributed to not having access to clean water, which can result in extreme diarrhoea, dehydration, susceptibility to other related illnesses and, in many cases, death.

We returned from our trip, determined to help further. For a few thousand dollars we discovered we could build and install a working well that would save the lives of many children and families. It was crystal clear to Maureen, Melinda and me what we needed to do next, and so our Just Giving project was born.

Thanks to the generosity of family, friends and colleagues we exceeded our fundraising target for Just Giving and raised enough money to not only build a well for a remote community in Kratie Province, but also provide desperately needed supplies for the local medical centre. We are so excited that work on the well will commence very soon. ChildFund Australia and ChildFund Cambodia will oversee the project and have everything on the ground ready to go, now the funds have been raised.

For Maureen, Melinda and me it’s been a real eye opener, an education and also a real pleasure to spend time in Cambodia. Thank you to ChildFund Australia and to ChildFund Cambodia for your warm welcome and allowing us this extraordinary experience.

Arkoun.