Submitted by: Relief Riders International
Posted: Jun 12, 2007 – 07:30 AM EST
Jun. 12 /CSRwire/ - June 12, 2007- Relief Riders International (RRI) is pleased to announce the 4th year of its acclaimed VolunTourism trips to Rajasthan, India. During its first three years, RRI was featured in "Outside Magazine," "Forbes," "Adventure," "O – the Oprah Magazine," and the Washington Post for its innovative combination of adventure travel and humanitarian aid.
In the first three years of operation, RRI was able to offer free medical care to 14,000 rural villagers. In addition, with the creation of RRI's Give the Gift of Sight program, 1900 people received outpatient eye care. For various reasons – diabetes or high blood pressure, they did not qualify for cataract surgery. But RRI’s medical team prescribed medicines and tutored patients on methods to reduce and manage their blood pressure and other conditions. In its four free eye camps, RRI was able to perform successful surgery and restore sight to 294 patients.
RRI's educational program experienced similar success rates. RRI visited 22 schools and treated 6900 children for worms and other ailments. Each student also received 4-6 months of educational materials: notebooks, pencils, drawing pads, erasers etc) In addition, to combat drop-out rates, RRI provided each school with sporting equipment to help create an extracurricular activities program.
Relief Riders also bring goats to families in need. 320 families have now received goats for milk and cheese.
Both the Give the Gift of Sight and Give a Goat programs are subsidized by the contributions of donors from around the world. A $65 donation covers the cost of a goat or a single cataract eye surgery.
According to RRI’s Executive Director, Alexander Souri: "It's good to know that we have more than exceeded our hopes. But it’s clear to us that we can do more to provide medical care."
RRI plans to expand its healthcare programs in the coming years. RRI expects to offer eye surgeries to at least 200 villagers on each of its next three trips from October 2007 to March 2008. These 600 surgeries will cost approximately $40,000.
Souri also plans to expand care to screen villagers for additional medical problems. By incorporating portable ultrasound equipment into its free medical camps, RRI can begin to offer a Critical Care Surgery Program. Medical staff – with the assistance of Relief Riders – will be able to screen rural villagers for a host of problems like breast and ovarian cancers for which there is no nearby treatment. RRI will begin to raise money to provide ambulance and jeep transportation, lodging and food for those in need of treatment and for family members as well.
At this point, RRI estimates the cost per villager to vary between $500 and $1,000 depending on the severity of the medical problem and the time for treatment. RRI is beginning a new fundraising appeal.
On May 7, 2007 RRI announced its schedule for its 4th season of relief rides:
Pushkar Relief Ride 7th through the 22nd of October, 2007:
The itinerary will take riders to the Sambhar Salt Lake Flats and through the valleys of the Aravelli mountain range. Our destination, Pushkar, is a small village, greatly renowned for having the only Brahma Temple in the world. It also boasts one of the largest horse and camel fairs in India.
Naguar Relief Ride January 21st through February 5th, 2008:
One of the poorest regions of Rajasthan, the people of the remote and beautiful Nagaur region are often neglected by larger health service providers. They are gracious and grateful for our relief mission. Providing visitors with a breathtaking experience of the Indian desert, Nagaur offers riders the chance to travel through rolling dunes, and visit some of the finest creations of Rajput civilization: its imposing palaces and the sculpted temples of red and yellow sandstone.
Roopangarh Relief Ride February 23rd through March 9th, 2008:
Relief riders will enjoy the stunning views of the Sambhar Lake Salt Flats paralleling the Aravelli hills. Our relief efforts will take us to Roopangarh where we will hold our free eye surgery camp.
"While it's satisfying to look back on the past three years," Souri noted "it's more exciting to look ahead to the challenges around the next corner. Each trip has its own large joys and minor frustrations. We've gotten better each year at balancing the adventure and sheer enjoyment of each journey with the hard work of providing aid. And it’s clear that each success challenges us to do more, to do better."
For more information about RRI:
Relief Riders International
304 Main Street – Suite 3B
Great Barrington, Massachusetts 01230
MEDIA CONTACT: Alexander Souri / 413.329.5876