April 20, 2012

We first met Sam at a TCRP gathering where he told us about Sala Bai. 2 years on and still inspired by his story, we joined him in Siem Reap on his Cross – Cambodian adventure to learn more about Sala Bai and how TCRP can make a difference.

About the Adventure
In the early morning hours of Saturday 31 March, Sam McGoun — a Detroit-area native and current resident of Singapore — will begin a seven day journey, swimming, running and cycling 625km across Cambodia in an effort to raise awareness for, and help fight against, human trafficking. Inspired by the challenges overcome by the students of Sala Bai, Sam’s route will follow the actual journey traveled by one recent Sala Bai graduate, Khatna, as she gained an education at the school. All funds raised by Sam will directly benefit Sala Bai, an organization that stops human trafficking before it starts.

About Sala Bai
For nearly ten years now, Sala Bai Hotel & Restaurant School has been offering tuition-free hospitality training to 100 impoverished young people annually. Sala Bai's mission is to provide their students with the capabilities and experience necessary — in one of four disciplines: restaurant service, cooking, front office and housekeeping — to secure gainful employment in one of Siem Reap's numerous luxury hotels, guesthouses or restaurants. These skills, and the resulting economic independence, not only improves the students' quality of life, but those of their families as well.


The Adventure Begins: Singapore to Siem Reap
Sam and the team began our cross-Cambodian adventure early Thursday morning, departing from Singapore and bound for Cambodia laden with camera equipment, bicycles, energy bars and flush with excitement for our week ahead.

Soon after landing in Siem Reap, Sam dove headlong into his triathlete responsibilities, playing the role of bike mechanic as he assembled and prepped his rides after their flight. Thanks to the ever-supportive staff at the Heritage Suites Hotel, Sam's bikes were roadworthy in no time.

Later in the day we touched base with our friends at Sala Bai. Sam addressed a sea of smiling young students at the morning flagpole ceremony, explaining that his inspiration and motivation for his journey is in fact the students themselves. Their commitment to creating a better life and future for themselves and their family has clearly left a very deep impression on Sam. As a physical manifestation of this inspiration, on every day of the adventure Sam will wear a different shirt — one for each student specialization at Sala Bai — connecting each of the student groups directly to one segment of his race and showing his solidarity with the students of Sala Bai.
In the final throes of trip preparation, the crew gathered for an epic pre-departure meeting where we got a preview of what to expect on our week-long trek. We’ll be camping at abandoned temples, waking before dawn to monastic chants, sleeping in pagodas, encouraging Sam and finding showers whenever we can.

As the documentary photography and film team chronicling Sam’s odyssey, we will be doing our best to keep pace with him as he dives into the rivers, runs through the villages and pedals across the countryside of rural Cambodia. And if Internet gods smile upon us, we will bring you a daily Report From The Road every evening, sharing a few snapshots and the daily headlines from Sam's journey. We are in for one fantastic adventure…

Donate to support Sam, Sala Bai and the fight against human trafficking.

Meghan Shea, Writer & Producer, Persistent Productions

To read more about Sam's Cross-Cambodian Adventure, click here.

Photo Credit: Scott A. Woodward Photography