After the WSOP madness each year, the rest of summer is calm for poker players. Everyone takes a month to decompress and prepare for the start of another year on tour.
For the last few years I've used that month to go on holidays in Asia. I love Asia. I lived in South Korea for six years and still have a lot of friends in that part of the world. Spending time in Asia enables me to come back to Barcelona for the beginning of the new EPT Season in the best possible physical and mental condition, feeling fully recharged.
This year my Asian tour started in a very special place - East Timor. With funds raised from a charity poker tournament on PokerStars.fr last year, I helped Peace and Sport in their involvement in East Timor by sponsoring a center for kids.
Peace and Sport puts sport at the heart of local development projects in communities in crisis around the world. The organization uses sport as a vehicle for teaching kids about tolerance, respect, sharing and citizenship, all at the service of sustainable peace.
All of those values are close to my heart. I wanted to see the results from the help we could send with my own eyes. The trip was also a unique opportunity to discover a new country and to learn about its history, its inhabitants and its customs.
Kaveh Mehrabi, the coordinator of Champions for Peace - top-level sports champions who assist Peace and Sport - joined me on this trip. We were shown around by our host and guide, Jose, who is the director of the youth center we helped renovate. Jose is an amazing man and was the perfect guide.
We stayed in the capital, Dili, because the roads are mostly impassable in other parts of the country due to the legacy of the country's conflict with Indonesia. Dili is a beautiful city next to the beach with plenty of local culture and history. We visited local sites with statues of Jesus and Pope Jean Paul II as well as the Museum of Timorese Resistance, a museum dedicated to the country's 35 years of problems with Indonesia.
Then we had the chance to visit the youth center. There we played ping-pong and badminton with the kids. Their energy and happiness is incredible, despite the very difficult conditions they have to live in. The public schools that we saw had neither doors nor restrooms. Kids sit on the floor while goats and chickens walk right by.
Those three days in East Timor showed me thing I hadn't seen before. The attitude of the Timorese people towards life is impressive. There are happy to finally be at peace. Seeing that helps to put our own first world problems into perspective.
Overall, my visit to East Timor was exceptional. When I realized just how much these kids need help, it strengthened my will to invest myself even more in this type of charity project. I'm delighted to announce that the next charity poker tournament hosted by PokerStars.Fr on behalf of Peace and Sport will be on Friday September 27th during the FPS Cannes Festival. I hope many of you will come to help me support this wonderful cause.
And if you see me, don't hesitate to ask about this incredible trip!
ElkY is a member of Team PokerStars Pro