Social Startups

Relief Riders: Combining Adventure Travel with Humanitarian Causes

Relief Riders International is a one-of-its-kind adventure travel company that leads relief missions on horseback. Participants travel for 14 days on horseback riding village to village, through the beautiful desert landscapes of India and Turkey, while delivering aid to remote communities that lack basic medical facilities and opportunities to make a living.

Back in 2003, Relief Riders founder Alexander Souri dreamed of combining his passion with giving back to society. From this desire, Relief Riders was born. The first Relief Ride kicked off in 2004 and since then, riders from all over the world have ridden through India, and now Turkey to provide humanitarian assistance to communities in need. To date, their efforts have provided relief to over 16,000 villagers.

Alexander of course knows a lot about horses, and provides detailed information via the Relief Riders website about the horses chosen for each ride, their history and temperament. Participants can usually choose between 2 to 3 rides that take place every year. Each ride is approximately 14 days long and takes place in a different part of the countryside.

Humanitarian Relief on Horseback

A typical ride is usually 3 hours every day on horseback, riding through the Thar desert in India, or central Turkey. On the ride, participants immerse themselves in the local culture, and experience the history and hospitality of the country. These are areas that are difficult (if not impossible) to reach by road, and hence the uniqueness of what Relief Riders has to offer.

On the ride, everything is well planned and taken care of. Supplies and equipment accompany the riders on a truck, not only to look after the comfort of the riders, but also emergency supplies for relief missions.

By joining the ride, riders contribute financially towards humanitarian programs including providing much needed dental care and eye surgery to villagers (who may otherwise need to travel hundreds of kilometers to get to a dentist).
Other relief efforts include donating goats to people that have no source of income. (In this previous post, we described how donating a pig or goat can help lift a family out of poverty) Free medical camps are organized with a focus on child health, and educational materials are donated to children to encourage them to stay in school.

Riders participate not just via their financial contribution to the ride, but also by assisting in delivering relief at each stop along the way. This gives them the chance to experience firsthand, the problems faced by marginalized communities and how their personal contributions are able to change lives and have real world impact.

In the end, the riders leave with memories of their adventure through beautiful countryside, knowing that they have helped to change lives. For their efforts for the last 9 years, Relief Riders was awarded the United Nations NGO Positive Peace Award in October 2010.

Follow Relief Riders International via their Facebook page, or website.

You may also like to read this amazing article about Alexander.