Ilene Douglas/ January 2011 Narlai Relief Ride & October 2005 Meetwas Relief Ride
This was the trip of a lifetime to a country that I never even considered visiting. Alexander Souri put together a trip that was exciting, meaningful, and educational. He is a man with a passion for India and its people, especially those who need medical and educational help. I will go again. Galloping across the desert with the sun sinking behind us the moon rising in our path...Wow
Peg Steley/ February 2011 Sardar Samand Relief Ride
Profound, uplifting adventure, back-roads of Rajasthan
Relief Riders have crafted the perfect travel adventure. Journeying through exquisite countryside, "camping" by lakes and under mountains in "Queen of Shiva" tents, yoga in the mornings, dining under the stars in Rajasthani fields, eating curry tiffin lunches served under the shade of giant Banyan trees, exquisite Marwari horses bedecked in red and orange garlands panting in the background. A cultural interlude was provided by a visit to the breathtakingly beautiful Jain temple at Ranakpur, a world heritage site we just happened to be passing. All this combined with a rich sense of purpose; a humanitarian mission delivering goats to impoverished villagers, school supplies to hundreds of students, participating in dental and medical camps. It was awesome!
Be prepared to enter a new world: India bombards you with color, sounds, scents, religious mystique, fragrant tastes and constantly changing topography. There is no better way for the adventurer to see and feel the country and other than to live, ride, work and laugh with its culturally rich people. Be prepared to return home a changed person.
Riding through the unspoiled countryside of fields and small villages, through narrow streets and into the forts and merchant villas made for an unforgettable experience. The desert landscapes made for great riding and the spacious and comfortable tents at our camps were out of "Lawrence of Arabia."
The medical clinics provided an opportunity to meet the people close up and the satisfaction of knowing that without our help it would have been much harder to provide the free care to these isolated areas. At the schools where we handed out supplies, the children were a delight and we were greeted with small celebrations and big smiles.
"I signed up for the Rajasthan Relief Ride! and showed up in Delhi to find every sense bombarded with exotic new sights, sounds and smells. In those first moments, I was slightly apprehensive! It was shortly after check-in that I realized the power of this trip is stepping into the unknown, relinquishing all fears and allowing the journey to unfold as it will!
For two weeks we rode incredible Marwari horses across the desert, volunteered at remote hospitals and schools, and met the most appreciative, gracious people. We enjoyed daily siestas, delicious food and fireside chats with our fellow riders ! I signed up for an adventurous vacation but somewhere in the Rajasthan desert found myself on a magical journey. I returned stateside to find myself forever altered precisely because I did step into the uncertainty. And I came home feeling more alive because of it."
"For me, the relief program was a spiritual experience! It is so special to see a small child smiling when he receives a pad of paper and an adult so grateful when they receive a goat which will provide milk for their family! I received an education about another part of the world that I could never get from a book. I hope that I can hold on to the spirit, innocence and wisdom of the Indian people that I met."
Relief Riders International provided the most enjoyable and unique vacation my wife and I have ever taken. This vacation/humanitarian experience will stay with us forever. One day you are riding through the desert enjoying the beautiful scenery, then we would help Red Cross doctors dispense the medical supplies we were carrying to the local villagers. Then we would ride to a school to give out schools supplies and enjoy the wonderful dance and singing performances of the students. Then we would give the poorest families in the village a female goat to provide milk for their children. Your staff were great at doing everything they could to make the trip a wonderful experience."
"I have traveled to many exciting, and beautiful and interesting places: the Sahara, Mongolia, Ireland, Russia, Patagonia, and New Zealand. My RRI trip in October 2005 was without a doubt the most fascinating, exciting, interesting and rewarding trip I have ever taken. I loved the Indian people. They lead such a difficult and simple life yet are so friendly and happy. I have such great memories of all the smiling faces I saw, and was humbled by how grateful they were for what help we could offer. "There's so much to do, but we did make lives better and might even have saved a few. I have never felt so rewarded for doing so little. I am anxious to go back and do more and I have such great memories."
"I experienced a profound connection to nature - from riding the spirited Marwari horses through the Thar desert; sitting around the campfires deepening relationships with nine former strangers; lying in a reflective peace in our paisley tents unraveling our particular places in the universe; participating in the inspiring and deeply moving visits to schools and hospitals to support the Rajasthani people. India's magnificence is overwhelming."
Because of my amazing trip to Rajasthan, I can never be the same. I still see the women in their glorious saris gathering their meager harvest of millet, or herding a small herd of goats, or peeking out a doorway as we ride through the small villages. How can I put into words what it was like to give a goat to an elderly man who seemed to weep as he clasped my hands and thanked me? I will always remember the man in Dundlod who came up into the medical clinic using his hands to propel him, and the older woman in Meetwas who sat on the ground while someone gave her pills and a cup of water. And the eleven year old boy, who came to the clinic, so sick he was unable to walk.
Nor can I forget the night sky with the stars so close it seemed I could touch them or the spectacular sunsets that turned the afternoon horizon into a blaze of yellows, gold's, reds, and orange. Now back home, the people of Rajasthan float through my dreams at night and remind me that I have been someplace very special. I still stutter and murmur when people ask me about my trip to India and I wonder, will I ever be able to adequately share this adventure in words that do justice to Relief Riders International and the work you are doing for the people of Rajasthan.