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Relief Riders' Alexander Souri on his latest UN Peace award and how it all began.

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“In my field of travel writing, the description “life-changing” is bandied about loosely, but I could not be more sincere when I say this trip (February 2007 Nagaur Relief Ride) changed my life. (read more)
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November 21st, 2010

Dear Friends-

If you live in the United States of America, it is easy to take for granted the fact that when you have a tooth ache you can find a well trained dentist nearby to treat you and provide quick relief. On average in the U.S. there is one qualified dentist for every 1,500 people.

In India there is approximately one qualified dentist for every 90,000 people. Three quarters of these dentists are located in urban areas leaving rural populations desperately underserved. This makes living with a toothache a daily and dangerous experience for thousands of people. Out of the 500 patients screened at both of our dental camps on last year's relief rides, only a handful had ever been treated by a dentist.

In Nimaaj, a small rural village in southwestern Rajasthan, people have to travel close to 100 miles to get primary dental care. For a population that does not own cars, and most of whom travel on foot, camel/bullock carts, or local bus services, these types of distances make seeking most dental care unfeasible.

Faced with a lack of primary dental care and no access to toothpaste or toothbrushes, people in rural India rely on local tooth cleaning powders which are extremely abrasive. Over time the enamel is worn off the tooth, leaving teeth hypersensitive and the patient in a lot of pain. Local non-medical remedies are available but these contain tobacco providing temporary relief for the pain but long term addiction and other oral complications over long term use.

The widespread practice in Rajasthan of chewing tobacco and beetle nut has led, according to the World Health Organization, the region to have the highest rates of Oral Submucous Fibrosis in India. This very painful, pre-malignant condition starts with reduced inner cheek elasticity and advances to jaw rigidity to the point where the patient can no longer open their mouth enough to eat.

During this past winter's Relief Rides, under the expert supervision of RRI's Executive Medical Director Dr. Mahesh Aurora and Dental Program Director, Dr. Vivek Chaturvedi, Relief Ride participants helped screen 500 people in Nimaaj and Bordi (another rural village) for primary dental care needs. Dr Chaturvedi and his dental team, consisting of two dentists and a technician, performed 200 dental procedures while our Relief Riders help set up and co-ordinate the dental camp, educate patients on basic oral hygiene and dispense medicines, toothpaste and toothbrushes.

We look forward to returning to Nimaaj on our January 2011 Narlai Relief Ride to follow up with our patients and provide dental care for those in need.

Our February 2011 Sardar Samand Relief Ride will expand the reach of RRI's Dental Program to the remote village of Kherwa located in the semi-arid desert in between Jodhpur and Udaipur in southern Rajasthan.

This is one of many very practical and direct ways that Relief Ride participants positively impact the health and well being of underserved communities in India.

Come join us on a purposeful adventure that promises to be the experience of a life time....

Gain intimate insight into rural India while blending adventure travel and humanitarian service through this culturally diverse region. Meet Rebari villagers and learn about the ecological principles that guide their lives. The next morning provide medical treatments for their children.

This remarkable new itinerary winds itself around the stunning Aravelli mountain range taking us from the lakeside Sardar Samand fort to Kumbalgarh. This is the first time we will ride across this 3300 foot mountain range offering unparalleled vistas of the Thar Desert. Kumbalgarh boasts the world's second longest wall (36 km) built in the 15 century to protect its people. While traversing this stunning landscape

I look forward to the possibility of riding with those of you interested in joining us in India this winter.


Alexander Souri

Someone asked the Dalai Lama "Why didn't you fight back against the Chinese?"The Dalai Lama looked down, swung his feet just a bit, then looked back up and said with a gentle smile, "Well, war is obsolete, you know. Of course the mind can rationalize fighting back… but the heart, the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you."

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Relief Riders International Dental Camp in Bordi, Rajasthan

Dr. Vivek Chaturvedi treating a patient at the RRI Dental camp in Nimaaj, Rajasthan.

Bharat Singh and David Murray preparing to register patients at the Bordi dental camp.

Dr. Aurora and Relief Riders, Nancy Heiser, Liz Habgood and Suzanne Skone preparing and managing medicines for the dispensary table at the Dental camp in Bordi.

Dr. Rajender, Relief Rider Ellie Zalesky and Dr. Krishna prepare to spend the day screening and offering patients dental hygiene solutions at our Dental camp in Bordi, Rajasthan.