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Kluge rides for Cambodian education

The Battlefords was the latest stop Monday on a cross-country journey to promote education in the developing world.

The Battlefords was the latest stop Monday on a cross-country journey to promote education in the developing world.

Armin Kluge, a 70-year-old cyclist from Aurora, Ontatio, is cycling across Canada to raise money and awareness for a school in Cambodia that he helped to build.

He was in North Battleford at an afternoon event at the Chapel Gallery on Monday, where people could meet him and contribute funds towards Cambodian education. As part of the day, children from the Boys and Girls Club were there to draw pictures for the Cambodian students. At the same time a fundraising raffle was launched at the Chapel Gallery, with a bike as the grand prize. That raffle will see proceeds going towards that school in Cambodia.

Kluge had made it in from the west on Sunday, and Monday was his official rest day as he prepared to continue his journey Tuesday.

This current leg of his journey began in Vancouver back on July 15 from Stanley Park, but this is actually the second leg of his journey across Canada. The first leg took place last fall when he rode from Kenora all the way to his home community of Aurora. That proved to be a good prelude to his current journey that has already taken himt hrough the Rockies.

His ride across Canada was inspired through his earlier efforts to build the Agnkor Peak Snang Junior High School in Cambodia. The school opened in 2008 and today has about 230 students in grades 7 through 9.

He got involved when a friend from Germany had called him up with his plans to build the school. Kluge thought it was a great project and wanted to help in some way.

"I helped him more in terms of being his assistant in meetings with him in Cambodia," said Kluge."His English is OK, but he's not as fluent. So he was always happy to have me around to do some negotiations and whatnot."

Before the school was built, the children there had no other opportunities for education, he said. According to their promotional material, the school is located in a place with no electricity or running water, so a solar generator was added to allow it to have LED lighting and a basic computer lab.

As well, Kluge and his family have been able to sponsor five children through a monthly donation of $25.

He set a goal in biking across Canada to raise $1 per kilometer to allow more children to be able to have access to an education at that school in Cambodia. That would give his campaign $7000 at the end.

"I try to raise the awareness of the importance of education," Kluge said of his journey. He explained that many children were forced to stay on the farm to work because the villagers couldn't afford to send kids to school.

By raising money, he said, they would be able to afford to attend that school. "We want to make sure that every child in that village has the opportunity to go to school," said Kluge.

It is unusual for anyone, especially at age 70, to embark upon a cycling journey across Canada, but it is doubly challenging for Kluge because he had never really seriously cycled before he started this journey last year.

"This is all new to me," said Kluge. "This is nothing compared to what our forefathers had to face when they colonized. What I'm doing here is a smidgeon of the hardship that they went through."

There have been some challenges along the way, he said, such as a mishap on his way out of Vancouver when he fell over and wrenched his knee, pulling some ligaments.

It took two weeks for it to get better, he said, but he was still able to ride. Then at Mt. Robson, he said, he reinjured the same knee. "And this time it was 10 times worse," he said.

It had stopped him from going from Jasper for a few days. The physical challenges have been by far his biggest, he said.

The other challenge was the normal ones, he said - rain, mosquitoes, fatigue, and boredom from having to ride in remote areas, anxious to get to his destination.

"But that's normal. If I was going to say it's too much, I shouldn't have started this bike ride," said Kluge.

Kluge now expects to continue on to Saskatoon, and eventually to Winnipeg and then Kenora, where he started his first leg last year. He'll then take the bus ride home to Aurora where he'll assess whether to continue on his journey to Halifax.

"I have a lot of people who want me to stay home!" Kluge admits. "So I'll have to make that choice at that time."

Those looking to follow Kluge's journey can do so at, which is where they can get more information about how to donate. As well, the site tracks Kluge's progress as he journeys across Canada.