GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts – Humanitarian efforts in the past six years supporting Rajasthani desert villagers through Relief Riders International (RRI) revealed that 63 percent – 10,200 – of 16,000 villagers have been children.
To RRI founder and executive director, Alexander Souri, in a country where UNICEF reports 42 percent of families live below the international poverty line and 48 percent of children are malnourished, the number is significant.
“Living a world away makes it hard to understand how badly needed basic medical care is and how dramatic the impact can be from a few school supplies,” stated Souri. “Riders with us see the situation up close and personal – it manifests itself in ways far beyond the gift at hand.”
Souri points out that too often young children in communities such as the ones he and the Relief Riders visit are directed into agricultural work. “Only 59 percent of boys and 49 percent of girls make it to secondary school education,” said Souri. School supplies such as notebooks, drawing pads, pencils, crayons, and sports equipment provide a simple and direct way to keep children interested in school.
Although less quantifiable, Souri affirms that equally as important is the creative and heartwarming social exchange that results between children and relief ride participants. “For most of these children, Relief Riders are their first experience with foreigners, and the excitement and curiosity they express during these meetings is inspiring.”
While relief efforts have assisted communities as a whole, Souri points out that hundreds of miles from urban service centers, RRI delivers basic de-worming medication to help rural children strengthen their immunity against parasites, which they are susceptible to as a result of compromised nutrition and drinking water. “Aiding children is at the heart of RRI’s mission,” said Souri. “The highlight of our relief trips is the excitement and gratitude we see on their faces whenever we visit their schools. Relief riders all agree that their experiences with these village children are unforgettably rewarding.”
PROGRAMS PROVIDED TO VILLAGERS IN THE REGION SINCE 2004 ARE:
– Administration of medical, ophthalmic, and dental care with the help of RRI’s team of doctors, dentists, and surgeons
– Distribution of school supplies and de-worming medication to area schools
– Donation of livestock, an invaluable sustainable food source to help ensure community survival
CURRENTLY SCHEDULED 2011 RELIEF RIDES ARE:
Luni New Years Relief Ride: Dec. 28, 2010 to Jan. 12, 2011
Narlai Relief Ride: Jan. 25 to Feb. 9, 2011
Sadarsamand Relief Ride: Feb. 23 to March 9, 2011
ABOUT RELIEF RIDERS INTERNATIONAL
Featured in magazines including Outside, Forbes, National Geographic Adventure, and The Oprah Magazine, Relief Riders International is an award-winning travel company whose trips combine adventure travel and humanitarian aid. Relief rides are organized with the help of in-country medical staff, teams of riders, and paying volunteer participants who ride rare Marwari horses through the Rajasthan desert to reach isolated rural villages. Trip participants visit spectacular ancient temples and caves, spot exotic bird and animal life along the way, and take part in traditional cultural celebrations. While dispensing aid, riders and volunteers stay in comfortable tented encampments and dine on freshly-prepared local cuisine.