Great Barrington, MA (PRWEB) July 18, 2006
Thanks to Alan Farnharm’s article, “Riding to the Rescue,” in the July 24, 2006 issue, more than 920,000 international readers will get a feel for the special spirit of the RRI experience. As Farnham describes it: “A band of strangers gallops into town. Before they leave, they’ll have de-wormed 400 kids, removed 200 cataracts and pulled 60 teeth. It’s their vacation.”
Interwoven into every RRI adventure travel trip is a well-planned and highly coordinated relief mission. As the riders – atop their extraordinary Marwari horses – ride into town, they are followed by camel caravans filled with vital medical supplies, and books and pens and pencils for local school children and a herd of goats to be given to local families. At the same time, working with the Indian Red Cross and a team of talented doctors, RRI is preparing to host several free medical clinics along the way. On their inaugural trip, riders treated 1050 patients, gave away 60 goats, and dropped off educational materials at 2 schools.
After operating for only one year, RRI was honored to be named one of Outside Magazine’s Best Trips of 2005.
By 2006, RRI had dramatically increased its humanitarian efforts. On one ride, travelers provided medical aid to 2,572 adult villagers and de-wormed 1,200 children; more than doubled the number of schools they donated supplies to and provided goats to 57 families in need. To date RRI has treated over 8400 patients out of which 3000 were children, distributed livestock to 210 below poverty level families. Each trip has brought a greater appreciation of what the people of rural Rajasthan need and how best they cam be helped.
It was during that 2005 trip that Alexander Souri visited with Dr. V. K. Gupta, one of India’s foremost eye surgeons, and witnessed one of his innovative cataract eye surgery camps. With a new appreciation of the problem of blindness in Rajasthan, Souri incorporated Dr. Gupta’s work into the RRI experience. He quickly established the “Give the Gift of Sight” program to complement his “Give a Goat” program. With each contribution of $65, RRI is able to provide life-changing cataract surgery to a villager in need.
During its February 2006 ride, RRI held its first “Give the Gift of Sight” clinic in Mehansar, Rajasthan, India. Doctors screened a total of 575 villagers with eye problems, and successfully performed surgery on the 87 qualified patients. Because of the extraordinary success and growth of its humanitarian mission, RRI has partnered with Documentary Educational Resource (http://www.DER.org) to provide 501(c) (3) non-profit status to both its “Give the Gift of Sight” and “Give a Goat” programs. People can now support the RRI mission with tax-deductible contributions.
2006 has brought with it a greatly increased recognition and appreciation of the RRI model. Equitrekking.com (Equitrekking.com), the premiere on-line resource for international travel adventures on horseback, recently posted an interview about RRI. Because of RRI’s leadership in this field, IBM and cultural-insights think-tank Infinia Foresight (IF) has invited Souri to join a small group of movers and shakers for their July 18, 2006 Think Site, a collaborative session of co-learning and co-creating to explore the Future of Work.
As Souri’s prepares for his next trip to Rajasthan in October, he is mindful of how RRI has exceeded all expectations for a fledging company, yet focused on the task at hand: “Every trip we take reminds me of how reality and my dreams are converging. There is a face connected to every act of kindness: a young boy who has his first notebook, or old woman who will have goat’s milk tomorrow, or a man who can once again see his village. And while we know we have accomplished a lot, we know there is more to be done.”
For more information about RRI:
Relief Riders International
304 Main Street – Suite 3B
Great Barrington, Massachusetts 01230
For more information about blindness in India and the “Give the Gift of Sight” program: http://www.reliefridersinternational.com/blindness.htm