November 1, 2016
2016: 4 rickshaws and 15 bikes donated
2015: 4 rickshaws, 24 bikes
If you’re a regular Ruby reader, you’ll know that we love an epic adventure. Whether trekking through remote valleys in China, cycling across the plains of Kenya, or climbing mountains in Dracula’s back yard, “have fun, do good” is the name of the game.
2015 saw the first ever Rickshaw adventure: 72 Virgin Atlantic people on 24 rickshaws, travelling across India over 8 days. The spirit of adventure definitely applied as the group travelled through the beautiful country with many twists and turns ahead.
The highlight of the trip was the donation of four rickshaws and bikes to our partnering WE Villages community. The bikes were donated to the local school for their pupils’ use. Many of these children have to walk miles to get to school every day, so having a bike makes an enormous difference.
And the rickshaws? These were distributed to provide community members with the means to generate income and support their families. They’re in constant use, full of people, livestock and supplies…and in a couple of memorable cases, transporting women in labour to hospital in the nick of time.
So we were delighted to do it all over again in 2016. With 4 more rickshaws donated to their community, local people have been empowered with additional income sources to lift themselves out of poverty.
Mika (below), who works at Heathrow Airport was at first very reluctant about this adventure but this is how she felt after it was complete:
“47 of my virgin colleagues and their family and friends drove the rickshaws for 4 days and a total of about 560Km from Gajner to Araveli where our WE.org community center is.
It was the first time I had done anything like this. I really enjoyed it, but it wasn’t easy for me to face the reality of the life which I have never had to experience. Not to mention the cows and goats crossing in front of us (actually we were told that if we run over those animals we would be in big trouble). At the end of our journey in Araveli, we have donated 4 brand new rickshaws and 10 bikes to the community. I hope that our donations are helping them by providing better transportation”.
Hot on the heels of the 2016 Rickshaw Run was the Virgin Atlantic staff volunteer trip. We visited our partner communities in Rajasthan, engaged in the women’s and men’s circles to learn about their culture, and worked on the construction of a new classroom. As we drove around from place to place, we saw the Virgin Atlantic rickshaws in full use.
These sighting were particularly special for Pat Patel, a veteran adventurer and top fundraiser for WE Charity. He went on the inaugural Rickshaw Run in 2015, and had this to say:
“For me, it certainly was a delight to see the impact of the fundraising in rural Rajasthan and I can now really have great pleasure in knowing that all the hard work this old body of mine does doing all these adventures is certainly having awesome rewards.”
And finally we’d like to say a massive thank you to the legend that is Simon Foster from Grasshopper Adventures for making it all happen and being such a big part of everyone’s trip.