“A 3,500km pan-Indian adventure in a 7 horsepower glorified lawnmower”
“Why not?”, I asked myself.
This crazy idea does actually exist, and it’s called The Rickshaw Run. Loosely organised by The Adventurists, this trip sees dozens of teams navigate themselves from Shillong, in the North East of India, all the way down to Fort Kochi, on the South West coast, in just under 3 weeks. To me, a high school student from London, this sounded like the best way to spend my summer holidays. With my family, in a rickshaw, exploring one of the most colourful countries in the world. So, Team Taj MaHalligan was born!
In reality we travelled 4,000km, through some of the most rural parts of India, experiencing the weird and the wonderful, and meeting some of the most honest people around. The reaction when you are the first white face a local has ever seen is unbeatable and the opportunity to fundraise for charity at the same time is invaluable. It is totally true that Indian driving is the craziest around, and no-one actually has right of way, but within minutes of being on the road I felt at home, albeit in my three wheeled, two stroke tuk- tuk. And shortly I was driving up to the front door of an Akshaya Patra Foundation kitchen.
Day 9 found us in Visakhapatnam, home to one of the kitchens that helps to feed millions of mouths daily all around the country. Akshaya Patra is a charity foundation that was set up in 2000, with an ethos that “no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger”. From humble beginnings, with the foundation serving 1500 mid-day meals to children at 5 government schools in Bengaluru, today the charity feed more than 1.6 million kids, in 26 different locations.
Today they are the world’s largest, not-for-profit, food distribution programmes and they are constantly striving to combat the issues of hunger and malnutrition in India. Every day they are reaching out to more and more children across the country and their mission is to feed 5 million children daily by 2020.
It was an incredible adventure and I feel privileged to have been able to meet the team at Akshaya Patra on our journey.