Drab wooden houses perched on stilts slid past the windows of our bus as we bumped along a rural road near Battambang, Cambodia, dust flowing in in our wake. Just a mile or two down that dirt road, school children fidgeted in the sultry heat where they sat in their school uniforms — impossibly white shirts and navy pants or skirts — and waited. And waited. And waited for our bus to arrive. A colorful canopy protected them from the sun that glinted off tantalizing rows of gleaming bicycles. Bikes that would soon belong to them.
Heads crained as our bus pulled up to the school and our delegation of Ambassadors of Idaho’s Wassmuth Center for Human Rights disembarked and jumped into action grabbing screwdrivers and over- stuffed suitcases. The children’s eyes darted between the bikes to which some of the ‘ambassadors’ were attaching baskets and the mounting stacks of backpacks, flip flops and bilingual coloring books emerging from the opened suitcases on the makeshift stage. When a suitcase filled with handmade dolls was opened, ambassadors — comprised of Idaho educators, additional professionals, retirees and American students — began giving the dolls to shy toddlers in the crowd.