22.01.2009 31 °C
As we sit by another hotel's swimming pool in the heart of a city teeming with people struggling to survive we are struck by the air of unreality and we realize that we are simply skating across the lives of locals before we zip on to our next adventure. Our path around South East Asia barely leaves a ripple, yet countless thousands have been effected by our presence: the crews of hundreds of planes, trains, ships and vehicles of all kind have held our lives in their hands; thousands of hotel and restaurant staff have cooked, cleaned and welcomed us; people have washed our clothes and carried our bags, (even whe we've tried to stop them); they have guided us, guarded us, and pedaled us around ancient monuments and modern cities. Yet our presence here is commemorated only by the few dollars that we have left in people's pockets and by the donations we have given on behalf of our Canadian friends.
Today, in Surabaya, southern Java, we visited a school for the poorest of the poor - a school for the children of garbage pickers. These poverty stricken people eke out an existence by scavenging through the city's garbage in search of anything that can be sold, re-used or recycled. Their environmentally conscious efforts should be applauded and rewarded in this day and age, but they are not. However, thanks to the incredible generosity of our friends and colleagues in Canada, their children now have a school with a new roof, together with newly painted ceilings and walls,
Here we are with a bunch of very happy kids who all want to say, "Thank you very much," to everyone who donated to the reconstruction of their school last year. We want to say, "Thank you," too. Here in this world of poverty and despair you are all Great Canadian Heroes.