General Travel News

2010 UN NGO Peace Award finalist offers a life changing experience for the holiday season

Relief Riders International (RRI), an adventure travel company that leads relief missions on horseback through the Thar Desert of Rajasthan, India, has made the top 10 list of finalists for the 2010 United Nations NGO Positive Peace Awards.

The award recognizes organizations that are contributing time and money to make a difference in the world through their support of local, national, and international NGOs and nonprofit organizations.

Other top 10 finalists include Canon, Hallmark, Delta Airlines, Honeywell International, Speed Gel, and Coors Central Beverages.

Though best known for organizing relief missions on horseback to some of India’s remotest desert communities, Relief Riders International has created a way for even stay-at-home volunteers to help fight hunger in these regions: the Give a Goat program.

Through the program, anyone can donate a live goat — whose milk and cheese provide a steady food source for dozens of villagers — for the nominal cost of US$75. According to UNICEF, 48 percent of children in India under the age of 5 are suffering from malnutrition. A single goat can go a long way to helping a family.

Though the donations can be made all year round, the holiday season, when RRI is gearing up for its annual relief rides (in December, January, and February) is an especially good time to give. It is during these relief rides that the donated goats are presented to villagers in Rajasthan.

“It’s extraordinary to see what a huge difference a single goat can make in these communities,” said RRI’s founder and executive director, Alexander Souri. “Each goat we deliver can produce enough food to feed a family. It’s very humbling to see how gratefully these gifts of sustenance are received.”

For those who would like to ring in the New Year by directly participating in the relief mission and personally hand over goats to people who can really use them for sustenance, more information can be found on the RRI website .

Relief Riders International’s award-winning relief rides combine adventure travel and humanitarian aid, and have been featured in magazines including Outside, Forbes, National Geographic Adventure, and O — The Oprah Magazine.

RRI brings together Indian medical staff with teams of riders — paying volunteer participants who ride rare Marwari horses through the Rajasthan desert - to bring much needed relief to isolated rural villages. Along the way, riders visit ancient temples and forts, spot exotic bird and animal life, and take part in traditional cultural celebrations; they stay in comfortable tented encampments and dine on freshly-prepared local cuisine.

The organization’s 2011 relief rides are scheduled for the following dates:

- December 28, 2010 — January 12, 2011
- January 25 — February 7, 2011
- February 23 — March 9, 2011

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