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Voluntourism Company Relief Riders International Responds to Lessons Learned in the Field; Re-Designs Programs

( Great Barrington, MA – Award-winning volunteer adventure travel company Relief Riders International Executive Director Alexander Souri says he is re-designing key humanitarian programs his company offers on its horseback riding tour of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, India. Souri says his he is looking at redefining the focus of his company’s general medical camps in the next year and will begin shifting more of the organization’s focus to its mobile cataract eye surgery clinics and a new program providing surgical care to rural villagers.

“We are extremely proud of the basic, yet vital healthcare we have provided these last 3 years, but it is clear that there is also a great need for surgical care. Following the example of our cataract eye surgery camps, we are organizing to offer a new program to provide surgical care to villagers.” RRI’s rural medical camps frequently draw crowds of 800 or more villagers from miles away, and while some villagers come with simple problems easily tended to in the non-technical setting, increasingly, villagers arrive with issues that cannot be addressed with general treatments.

Working closely with rural communities to define problems and craft treatment programs, Relief Riders International is now marshalling its forces for the launch of a new program: the Critical Care Surgery Program. Through the Critical Care Surgery program RRI will provide transport and treatment for villagers to hospitals where complete treatment for common problems such as hernias and gallstones or even breast cancer and pelvic cancer for example, can be provided. “We’ve learned, as have other voluntourism adventure companies, that a significant amount of research and collaboration is required at the outset of these programs and we’re teaming with local aid organizations to make this program a success for the people of rural Rajasthan,” says Souri.
Despite the challenges it faces in administering its village medical aid programs, RRI remains committed to the twin goals it defined for itself at its inception: to provide meaningful support to rural communities, and unique travel experiences for adventurous travelers.

To date Relief Riders International medical camps and school visits have treated over 14,000 villagers, including 6,300 children. Its Give the Gift of Sight Campaign continues to treat rural villagers with cataracts – since the program began, RRI has treated 294 patients - and its Give a Goat program has distributed 320 goats to below poverty-level families.

While guests on the Relief Riders International expeditions are often attracted by the chance to help people, the trip also promises a unique and rare opportunity to experience authentic India. Riding on horseback for two weeks through the desert, guests are treated to an experience of India unlike any other. At night they enjoy meals by firelight and stay in 400-year-old forts or raj-style circular tents modeled on those used in the 1800s; during the day they are treated to spectacular desert views, where wind and shifting sands constantly reshape the vast dunes.

Relief Riders International’s 2007-2008 season include the following itineraries:

RAJASTHAN RELIEF RIDE 2007: Pushkar Relief Ride 7th through the 22nd of October, 2007
RAJASTHAN RELIEF RIDE 2008: Nagaur Relief Ride January 21st through February 5th, 2008
RAJASTHAN RELIEF RIDE 2008: Roopangarh Relief Ride February 23rd through March 9th, 2008
For more information contact:
Relief Riders International
Email: href="">

MEDIA CONTACT: Alexander Souri / 413.329.5876 Alexander Souri Executive Director Relief Riders International 304 Main St Great Barrington, MA 01230 Tel: 413.329.5876

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