Paul Hayes is at it again – this time, with some help with his friends back home.
Last month, the Earl Marriott Secondary grad – who now teaches at an English-language school in China – cycled from northern Laos to Hanoi, Vietnam over 15 days. Along the way, Hayes and his riding partner, Cyril Indome, handed out sports equipment to children in impoverished villages.
“These kids have such great energy and it’s unbelievable that we can provide them with something so simple that brings them so much joy,” Hayes said.
It’s not the first such trip for Hayes, who has lived in Asia for more than three years.
In 2012, the South Surrey native – who admits he has “kind of an adventurous spirit” – made a 4,200-km cycling trek through China, where they also handed out sports gear as part of Hayes’ We Haul 2 Play non-profit organization.
This time around, both he and Indome cycled more than 1,200 km while towing trailers full of volleyball, soccer and Takraw balls – the latter being part of a traditional Malaysian game played by many who live in the countryside.
The gear was supplied by a Laos business whose owner Hayes said “really believes in our message… and was so thrilled we were helping out her country.”
For this trip, Hayes also received donations from close to home – a Grade 5/6 class at South Meridian Elementary and a Grade 2 class at Diamond Head Elementary each raised money for Hayes’ Haul 2 Play cause. In total, the two classes donated nearly $700.
“My friends (on the Peninsula) had been seeing my photos by social media, and people have been coming forward to ask how they can get involved,” Hayes explained.
During their two-week journey, Hayes said they met hundreds of villagers, many of whom serenaded them with songs and cheers as they rode through.
“It was great to be able to hand out equipment during the (Christmas season),” Hayes said.
“We even had kids singing Christmas carols as we (rode through).”
As was the case on his earlier cycling treks, the trip wasn’t without a few off-putting moments. For starters, the terrain was often hilly and steep – which one Russian man they encountered summed up by saying “Today, many problem for you.”
Elsewhere, they would sometimes ride at night, and with no shelter planned at their destination. In nearly every village, however, a family would take them in.
“We put our faith in people and they didn’t let us down,” Hayes said.
“We are blessed to have met such great people along the way.”