By Mei Mei Thai
Relief Riders International (RRI) has successfully completed its first relief ride to Rajasthan, India and is now making plans for future trips.
RRI offers the unique combination of a breathtaking
horse-back adventure through the Thar Desert with a life-changing humanitarian mission.
The inaugural ride, created by founder and Executive Director Alexander Souri as a living memorial to his Indian father, accomplished more than anyone would have imagined.
The 15-day journey
began at the majestic Imperial Hotel with a bus ride to the historic Mukundgarh Fort. There the riders met their mounts; the famed Marwari horses, and began an extraordinary ride to several villages in Rajasthan.
The RRI medical team consisted of a specialist in Ear Nose and Throat ailments, an Ophthalmologist, a Pediatrics specialist, a Dentist, a Gynecologist and two General Physicians. Such comprehensive care is rare is rural India, and villagers arrived early after traveling significant distances to see the medical team.
In Lohargal, 15 families living below the Indian poverty level were selected by the town council and each given two goats for milking. And in Pachar, RRI gave supplies to the local school and livestock to families in need.
Another aspect of RRI's humanitarian mission was an important HIV/AIDS Awareness campaign offered in conjunction with the Red Cross and India Canada Collaborative HIV/AIDS Project (ICHAP).
When the riders weren't "doing something for somebody else" they were traveling through gorgeous territory, with ancient villages and old forts and rich wildlife. As New York State interior decorator Karen Cedar noted, "We were riding the most fabulous horses through the most amazing landscape and they were wonderful."
Along the way riders sampled the region's culinary specialties and experienced some of rural India's unique cultural life.
As Alexander Souri said: "When I created Relief Riders International I dreamed of a new model of travel - a chance to see new lands and an opportunity to transform both the visitor and the visited. Our October journey more than met any expectations I had. I look forward to our next trip."
Find out more about the Relief Rider's next trip at their website
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