Last week I reignited this blog after five months silence. A few of you will know that this year I had a health surprise, namely a diagnosis of Parkinsons disease. So far the disease has not produced radical symptoms – extreme shakes, or, an affliction that strikes many sufferers, ( at least eventually,) immobility. It is not uncommon for those with Parkinsons to freeze when they get to a door, and require some visual prompt to get them started again. I’d say I’m bound to be on an interesting adventure to say the least. But for now my symptoms include:
- Loss of the use of my right hand when it comes to typing. My right arm is about as useful as a plank of wood.
- The need for much more sleep!
- A slowdown in my work rate – my brain is sharp, but it takes longer to get my thoughts down on paper.
During my five months silence I enjoyed a long overdue holiday with my partner, Susanna, and I spent quiet time ruminating about the impact of my condition. It has scrapped the old rules, but the problem is there are no new hard guidelines. Everybody with Parkinsons experiences a different combination of symptoms, and the onslaught of these occurs at different speeds. Who knows? So against this shifty backdrop I have been trying to contemplate what the impact will be on my life. I’m starting to set goals and objectives: of bucket list of things I want to achieve before – and just in case – I deteriorate beyond usefulness.
Some of these goals are very tangible. I wish to complete a long cycle ride within the next 24 months, and there are some writing projects that I have started already: things I have long wanted to write.
But there is one central crisis I have not been able to resolve, and that is the funding of Savong’s school in Cambodia. Savong’s project has many branches – two homes for children, a student centre for older students in Siem Reap, as well is the school in Bakong which serves primary school children as well is secondary. It also provides scholarships to University for the top grade 12 students each year. These scholarships are worth about $1000 per student per annum over the four years required to get a degree.
All up, the school requires at least $3000 per month to run, and a majority of this money has come out of my own earnings. Over the past 10 years it has been more efficient for me to knuckle down to work, to earn my income as a researcher, and to send the money over to Cambodia. Far easier than fund raising.
This last year I was going to make the transition toward fundraising however. I am almost 60, retirement is around the corner, and I need to find an alternative source of income to underwrite the ongoing expenses of Savong’s school. I saw this as a kind of baton change in a relay race. What the Parkinsons diagnosis did was cause me to stumble badly and drop the baton.
So now by my reckoning I have got eight months to get my fundraising act together. Somehow, somewhere, through some people, I need to find sponsors to the tune of US$3000 per month. The school in Cambodia, which serves many hundreds of children, faces many challenges of its own: my health shouldn’t be one of them.
See also: About the school.