A series of children’s books that launched last month is the latest chapter in the legacy of a South Surrey man whose impact in Thailand inspired – among other things – construction of a school and a fresh-water filtration system in a remote northern village.
The Adventures of Winnie Moo are “written for the inquisitive minds of children to learn, laugh and LiveLikeBen,” a post on a Facebook page dedicated to the series beams.
The Live Like Ben Foundation was established to honour the memory of Ben Trompetter. The 27-year-old, who had worked as a guide in Thailand – and came to know and love the people of Pha Dang Luang, in particular – died in 2012 after jumping from a cliff into the icy waters of Anderson Lake, near Pemberton.
In the years since his death, the foundation spearheaded by his mom, Tara, has raised tens of thousands of dollars to benefit several projects in the adventurous man’s name.
A description on the foundation’s website notes he was “an outgoing and positive person who had an enormous heart that touched people across the world.”
“The way he lived, the way he loved, and the way he treated others has kept his spirit alive in all of us,” the description adds.
And, the five-book series will only continue that, Tara told Peace Arch News.
Written by Trompetter’s close friends, Niki and Alex Sinsawas, it introduces children to travel by sharing the “fantastic journeys” of Winnie Moo – an “adventure puppy” who, by no coincidence, bears strong resemblance to the Sinsawas’ petite family pet.
The dog, said Tara, is basically a guide, just as Ben was. With her, readers “float down rushing rivers, swim in crystal clear seas, and walk alongside gentle giants,” a description at www.winniemoo.com says.
“We climb coconut trees, snooze in swinging hammocks, and smile our biggest smiles.”
Just like Ben, the stories, colourfully illustrated by Kezzia Crossley, are “all about love and kindness,” Tara said. She noted a rhino that appears throughout, and is Winnie Moo’s favourite toy, represents her son, who was dubbed ‘Rhino’ in Thailand.
Ben “was just solid,” Tara explained of the villagers’ choice of monikers.
“They always said he was unstoppable. It was so awesome to be able to interject this into the children’s books.”
Another constant in the tales is Charlie, the Sugarbear, who is Winnie Moo’s best friend in real life as well, Tara said.
The first book in the series, Winnie Moo in the Land of Smiles, sold more than 400 copies ($19.95 each) on Amazon within two weeks, she said.
The next, expected to be released in August or September, is Winnie Moo and the School that Love Built. It’s about the building of Ben’s School; a 1,000-square-foot, three-classroom, tiled-floor project that opened in Pha Dang Luang in January 2016.
The story built around it is “absolutely beautiful,” Tara said.
She noted something “quite spectacular” is being planned for its release: the first 120 buyers will have an opportunity to also purchase one of 120 hand-sewn, traditional hill-tribe bags that were made by the village women as a thank-you gift for funds that were raised to purchase 120 blankets.
The bags fit the book “perfectly,” said Tara, and the cost – $9.99 per bag – will be donated back to the women.
Plus, “the children will have an authentic bag from the village where Ben’s school is,” she said.
Proceeds from the book sales will benefit the foundation.
Tara said the series is just one more way that “Ben keeps me busy helping others.”
To that end, the foundation is also in the midst of yet another project in Thailand. Expected to come to fruition this summer, it’s the construction of a hydro-electric turbine that will bring electricity to a different Thai village, Pong Naam Ron.
Residents of the 30 homes there “have been promised electricity for 50 years” by the Thai government, Tara said.
Alerted to the need in January, Tara said it took just 72 hours to raise the $7,000 to cover the cost of materials and supplies. Once built, it will provide power for two light bulbs and a plug-in for each home.
“It’s going to be an incredible undertaking,” said Tara.