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Riders use special steeds perfectly suited for the desert during the rides.
The Relief Riders First Ride Touches Many Lives in Rajasthan

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.

Working with a team of medical doctors, the Indian Red Cross, and master outfitter Kanwar Raghuvenvra Singh Dundlod, the international team of riders began what rider Alice Read called "the perfect combination of an adventure and doing something for somebody else."

500 Villagers Showed Up

For the next two weeks the relief riders traveled with 60 goats, five camels and more than 10,000 pounds of medical and educational supplies, averaging 21 miles a day. The riders stopped at five villages along the way. More than 500 villagers showed up at both Khirod and Danta for free check-ups and medicine.

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.

One of the clinics organized by Relief Riders in October.
In Kochor riders distributed a variety of educational material and sports supplies, including text books, note books, drawing pads, crayons, pencil holders, globes, maps, carpets, cricket bats, soccer balls, volley balls and nets, and tennis balls.

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.

HIV/AIDS Awareness

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

Riders stay in tents during most of the trip.

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