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PHUKET: Charitable organizations all over the world receive thousands in aid to keep their operations running smoothly. However, advocates of one such organization, called the ‘Happy World Tour’, that represents an orphanage in Phuket, takes funding to the next level via projects across nations and continents. This year, three cyclists have decided to cycle around the world.

The orphanage in Muang Mai was built in 2005 after the tsunami dragged across Phuket’s west coast. The aim then was to help children and families who lost almost everything in the disaster. Eventually these people could move out to relatives and friends, but it soon turned out that the orphanage was still needed and the cry for help was huge, even from people who were not affected by the tsunami. The majority of these people come from the poorest provinces in northeastern Thailand.

Unlike similar undertakings that have been motivated by the lust for popularity and fame by many around the world, Calle Wollgard is doing so with the sole purpose of helping the caretakers and dozens of orphans of Barnhem Muang Mai – the orphanage run by Susanne Janson and Hans Forssell. Phuket and the rest of the world will pledge finance for each 10 kilometer travelled, as Calle and his team make their way to more than 20 different countries around the world.

Calle has already begun his fund-raising journey, and is joined this year by Eva Eriksson and Lovisa Hakansson.

They started from Phuket a few weeks ago with no prior training and just their wits about them, equipped with three ‘Haibike’, privately sponsored by a shop in Stockholm, in addition to bags, tents, cameras, some clothes and a small stove.

“My motivation has always been and will always be the people – the children, staff and all the people who operate behind the scenes at the orphanage,” says Calle.

The Happy World Tour blog reads that the determined trio plans to pass Portugal, Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Switzerland, Italy again, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece and Turkey.

After Turkey, the trio plans to head through Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Laos and finally enter Thailand via Chiang Rai. Their strenuous journey is scheduled to end at Muang Mai, Phuket by the end of next year.

Calle doesn’t take this project lightly. Before he left, he told the Phuket Gazette that he was looking forward to the experience.

“Last time when we embarked on a similar journey, we didn’t encounter a single person who wanted to cause us harm,” said Calle. “We ended up meeting only good people who helped us along the way. Without that, I’m not sure I would be doing this.”

“I hope that the fundraiser will be a success and we get to meet a lot of interesting people on the way. I’m also looking forward to being close to nature.”

You can follow their journey and make donations online by visiting thehappyworldtour.com.

— Zohaib Sikander