Philanthropy takes many forms, and some can combine adventure with hands-on good deeds in faraway locales. With Relief Riders International, which was just nominated for a 2010 United Nations NGO Positive Peace Award, participation and giving can be extremely personal.
The Positive Peace Awards recognize “organizations that are contributing time and money to make a difference in the world through their support of local, national and international NGO’s & nonprofit organizations,” according to the Relief Riders announcement. The awards are part of the festivities surrounding International Positive Week, September 20-26, and International Day of Peace, September 21. See the full list of nominees, here.
Relief Riders is “a humanitarian-based, adventure travel company that organizes horseback journeys through breathtaking areas in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan, India,” according to the NGO’s Web site. Its mission is to bring medical and dental, dental, educational programs and supplies, and ways for families to provide their own food. Adventurer-volunteers pay for their trips, and those who don’t necessarily want to ride on horseback during the missions can arrange to ride in donkey carts or even SUVs.
Relief Riders Founder and Executive Director Alexander Souri had a successful career producing film and theater, working on big films including “The Matrix,” and “X-Men.” Souri also worked in China, producing commercials and industrial films.
Souri, (above) whose father was Indian, founded Relief Riders after “my father passed away,” and then four friends as well, within “months of each other,” he told WealthManagerWeb.com at a private reception in New York. After his father died, Souri did a lot of soul searching, and decided he wanted to do something very different. Souri spent years in India when he was a young man and he knew there was a need there for this kind of help.
Souri’s “been spending large amounts of time in India since 2002–in the beginning I would travel twice to India over the winter spending at least [five to eight] weeks per trip during each winter. I now only make one trip and spend [three to four] months usually from December to late March or early April,” he noted in an email.
A note from the editor: My family has supported Relief Riders’ “Give a Goat” program, which provides pairs of goats to needy families to provide them with a sustainable source of milk and cheese. They are delivered by volunteer riders who also bring educational, medical and dental programs. Because the “ Goats” concept is so tangible, it is one that children can easily identify with, and it was fun for the family to discuss and follow.
Comments? Please send them to [email protected]. Kate McBride, AIF(R), is editor in chief of Wealth Manager and a member of The Committee for the Fiduciary Standard.