Hands Across the Water

500 ks in 5 days.

Miriam Hechtman

Kendall&LylaBronte - Version 2

Be the change you wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi.

I am always inspired by people who are on the move, in action and doing. So when I heard about Kendall’s upcoming trip to Thailand, I knew this was something that I wanted to share with the WonderWomen community.

In Feb 2014, Kendall and her husband Dave will ride 500kms though Thailand, in just 5 days. But before they do, they will raise $5000 each. All the money raised will go towards building an orphanage in Thailand.

Pictures of the Kids 2How did you find out about Hands Across the Water?

I found about HATW when I heard the charity’s founder, Peter Baines, give a presentation at an entrepreneurs group. Peter had the unenviable job of reuniting the bodies with their loved ones after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. HATW was established after Peter saw the children wandering the streets of Thailand after the tsunami and recognised the need to find safe homes for them. They had just lost everything. Their homes, their parents, and in some cases, their entire families.

There are so many charities to give to, what drew you to this charity?

I actually saw Peter speak on several different occasions before I committed to the ride. Each time he spoke I had tears streaming down my face and told myself, there’s no way I can do this! It’s way too emotional. In the end, this was the very reason I ‘stepped up’ and took on the challenge. I knew for me, that to get beyond the intense emotion and tears I felt every time I thought of those orphans, I simply had to do the ride! It felt like a calling, something I couldn’t say ‘no’ to. I think there’s something about being a mother, knowing that these children lost their parents in one tragic moment, and the fear and repercussions of that sits very deeply with me. (I’m even in tears as I write this!)

FlourWater.0064Tell us a bit about the charity. 

Hands Across the Water is a boutique Australian charity that gives at-risk Thai children and their communities a helping hand. Their projects are tailored to meet local communities’ needs – for the long term – and support hundreds of children in multiple locations across Thailand. In the charity’s first six years, they have raised more than $7 million without spending a cent of donors’ money on administration or marketing.

In 2004, HATW initially supported 32 kids who had lost their parents and were living in a tent at Baan Tharn Namchai (BTN) in Phang-Nga, a town on Thailand’s northern Andaman coast. The kids were left without food, shelter or support. HATW, along with a number of equally committed supporters, pooled their resources to build the first orphanage at Barn Tharn Namchai. Baan Tharn Namchai was opened in August 2006 and a girls-only building was added on in January 2009. Today, Baan Tharn Namchai is home to 74 children and 12 babies.

What will the ride entail?

A group of approximately 30 riders will arrive in Thailand in early February, ready to ride 500kms over a five-day period. It still feels surreal as I say this – there’s a big part of me that’s in denial about the physical aspect of the ride – but I remind myself of my privileged life, and how much the children have suffered in their short lives. We will be riding through villages, on unsealed roads, beside the ocean, and through farmland. Hopefully there won’t be too many hills!

How are you preparing for the ride – physically, mentally, spiritually?

I recently got on my pushbike and am aiming to ride a few days per week around my local area. So far I’ve only ridden for about half an hour at a time, but I will build it up over the next couple of months and add a few spin classes in to the mix, as well as continuing my yoga practice. If anyone wants to give me emotional support, you can follow me on “Strava” 🙂 I must admit a lot of my focus right now is on raising the $5000 I need in order to take part in the ride – plus helping my husband raise his $5000, as we’re riding together. It’s pretty time consuming on top of being a mother and a business owner! I haven’t focused on the mental and spiritual aspect of the journey yet, although every time I feel it’s all too hard – like when I’m peddling nowhere fast up a hill – I focus on the children’s needs above my own.

slide.014-001Apart from raising money for the orphanage, what else do you hope to achieve by doing this?

This is an incredible opportunity to do something so much bigger than myself. To push myself beyond my comfort zone and truly give back to a community that continues to have it’s challenges long after the natural disaster in 2004. I am pushing myself physically and I am learning so much about raising money and creating fundraising events! I get emotional every time I think about the final day of the 500kms, when we will ride into the village and be greeted by all the beautiful, grateful children. I can’t imagine how that will feel, but I’m sure there will be a lot of tears!

How can people contribute?

There are several ways people can contribute:

1. A tax deductible donation via my link: https://handsacrossthewater.org.au/pages/rider/kendall-hayes/

2. By purchasing beautiful cook books with contributions from 51 top Australian chefs including Adriano Zumbo, Pete Evans, and Neil Perry (these make great Christmas presents at only $35 each)

3. Attending our family friendly fundraising evening on Sat 14th December, 4-7pm at Mad Pizza, Bondi, Sydney. Mad have kindly provided the space and we have some amazing silent auction items donated by some very generous local businesses, including designer sunglasses, personal training sessions, jewellery, a photography session, social media mastery training, and many more!

2104 Ride Promo Images Square 1100% of all the money raised will go towards building a new orphanage in Kao Lak. There are no administration fees and all riders must purchase their own airfares, food and accommodation etc on top of the money raised.

To be kept updated on details of our event, other fundraising initiatives, and of course photos and videos from our actual adventure, please follow Dave and I at:


Official site: www.handsacrossthewater.org.au

Kendall’s donation link: https://handsacrossthewater.org.au/pages/rider/kendall-hayes/