The Faces Of Voluntourism

Share Article

Renowned sports action and fashion photographer Marc Lécureuil currently "shoots" an ongoing marketing campaign for PUMA, the sports accessory company. His images capture the kinetic energy of sports - the power, dynamism, physical commitment, and even grace, of both professional and amateur athletes. In October 2006, Marc took on a very different assignment, however. Through the generous financial support of the India Tourism Board, Marc undertook the role of photographing "voluntourists in action" as part of Relief Riders International's (RRI) ride to Rajasthan, India.

RRI's new slideshow, "The Faces of Voluntourism" features the images Lécureuil captured during that trip and expresses the spirit of this burgeoning sector in the travel industry. In fact, EuroMonitor International has projected that voluntourism will be one of the fastest growing travel segments for the next 3 - 4 years.

Alexander Souri, the Executive Director of RRI, notes: "For awhile now," I have been searching for a simple, concise way to bring the Relief Rider experience to life. Marc's photographs, accompanied by the evocative music of Krishna Das, encapsulate the rush of riding across the desert, the rich and diverse culture of India, and the incredible human interaction between our riders and villagers. It's all here in the eyes and 'the faces of voluntourism.'"

Several alumni relief riders have shared their responses to the moments Marc memorialized:

Barry Boscoe, after seeing the image of villagers gathered about the registration desk at our medical camp, I remembered "wondering about the daunting task ahead of us, to register them all to see the doctor, and to help them understand their prescriptions. I wondered if this was just too much for them and if we were of value only showing up once in awhile."

Seeing the photo of the eye patients in the courtyard, he "remembered the overwhelming feeling of pride and joy at how we were able to help the villagers better their lives. The tremendous gratitude they exhibited towards us was heart warming."

Marc's shot of RRI's herd of goats brought the ride experience back to life for Heather Ferrel: "How could a woman cupping your face in thanks for a goat, or a child grinning ear to ear while clutching a pencil, be anything less than unforgettable?"

For Lois A. Gestner, a retired nurse, the slideshow reminded her that "there was nothing better, for me, than a smile or hug, a salute or wave. I will always remember the expression on the faces of the men and women who had the cataract surgery, the laughter of the children receiving the school supplies and the villagers who were given goats."

The shots of the medical camp prompted Chris Kirkwood to recall that: "in providing healing and renewed life for others, we received it in return. The tears that were shed were sometimes for them & sometimes for us.

"Such love and beauty fills you, humbles you, sometimes overwhelms you, but can not be duplicated, until the next day when you get to do it all again!"

Dr. Vinoy Vighneswar, RRI's Ayurvedic physician responded to the slides as a native Indian: "I'm so amazed by the sincerity and enthusiasm shown by the riders in taking care of the children at schools and the patients who turn up for the medical camps.
This small effort I think will go a long way in helping the villagers in improving their life, by giving their children education and better addressing their health problems.

He continued: "I look at all our riders as very special human beings for making this ride real, for without them there is no ride."

"Marc's stunning views of Rajasthan," Souri concluded, "coupled with his images of both riders and villagers reveal the true essence and passion of the Relief Riders voluntourism program."

About Relief Riders International: In three years, Relief Riders International's voluntourists have helped to provide 14,000 villagers with free medical care, including 6900 children who were treated at the 22 schools RRI visits. Since RRI began its Give The Gift of Sight program they have provided free cataract eye surgery to over 300 patients while offering eye-care to many hundreds more Under the auspices of its Give A Goat program, 320 families have received free goats for milk and food. And thousands of children have received free school supplies.

According to David Clemmons, Founder of, "RRI offers a unique blend of voluntary service and adventure travel in what may be considered one of the most remarkable voluntourism expeditions in the world."

For more information about RRI:
Relief Riders International
304 Main Street - Suite 3B
Great Barrington, Massachusetts 01230
United States
(413) 329-5876
Email: info @
MEDIA CONTACT: Alexander Souri / 413.329.5876

For more information about the photography of Marc Lécureuil:


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Visit website