Born in a refugee Cambodian camp in Thailand, 28 year old Solary was a baby when she and her parents came to New Zealand as refugees from Pol Pot’s regime.

“Cambodia has always held a huge and special place in my heart but I have never had the opportunity to meet my grandma and extended family and see the home my parents grew up in.”

Her sister Anna, who is joining her on the cycling adventure and two younger brothers, were all born in New Zealand. Solary says she is blessed to have grown up here but is looking forward to returning to her roots.

“I want to give back to my home country in any little way I can. What better way to do this than by raising funds for New Zealand Red Cross which did so much to help Cambodians during the war and its aftermath.“

In 1979, New Zealand Red Cross raised $650,000 and sent more than 60 doctors and nurses to Southeast Asia to help Cambodian refugees and Vietnamese people. Today Red Cross supports refugees from all parts of the world including Cambodia’s Southeast Asian neighbour, Myanmar.

So far, Solary and Anna have raised $1000 for Red Cross through their Facebook and LinkedIn pages but they are keen to raise a lot more. You can support Solary and Anna by donating here

“There are still places on the cycle challenge so we are encouraging others with an adventurous spirit to make a difference to those in crisis around the world by joining us on the cycle challenge and help raise funds for Red Cross.”

Solary has never cycled or even exercised much but now she is training regularly and has even signed up for the Twin Partners Mountain bike challenge, a 26km ride around Auckland’s Motutapu Island.

“Cycling through the gorgeous Cambodian countryside will be easy after that,” she said.

Beginning from Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, Solary, Anna and up to 18 other energetic fundraisers will cycle along jungle paths through villages including Battambang, where her grandmother lives, and Siem Reap, near the famous temple complex of Ankor Wat. Their mother comes from Siem Reap and this is where Solary will meet her aunty and cousins for the first time.

“The Cambodian people endured the infamous Killing Fields and suffered so much devastation during Pol Pot’s civil war. I would love to help bring light, hope and financial support to my people.”

Find out more about the Red Cross 12 day Cycle Challenge across Cambodia or sign up for the challenge.