The only way to save one’s soul is to save some else’s.
These were the words that led to a ride to the heart of Maharashtra as part of our Fight Poverty campaign. And this time we had the man who said these words carrying the message of Rang De and traveling 1200 kms to experience the power of social investment.
After the success of the first Fight Poverty ride by Rang De & ScoutMyTrip, where we travelled 300+ kms from Mumbai to Pune and back, this was our second attempt to bridge the divide between urban Indians and rural India. And Aditya Raj Kapoor, son of Bollywood actors Shammi Kapoor and Geeta Bali, joined us as the ambassador for the Fight Poverty ride, along with Deepak Ananth and Pratik Motta.
As the heat steadily rose over the course of the ride, our bikers made their way to Vidarbha and by the time they were in Ahmednagar, the water in their bottles evaporated just as their sweat did off their skin.
Summer is particularly harsh in dry and arid Vidarbha. Yavatmal, the final destination, is also infamously known as the place with the highest incidence of farmer suicides.
We hear of farmer suicides regularly in the press yet it is not an issue that just affects men. Unable to imagine the farmer as a woman is tragic especially when we consider that women constitute almost half of agricultural labourers around the world and it is the women who are left behind forced to pick up the pieces when a home gets shattered.
With these thoughts ripe in their minds, our bikers reached Pusad on the last day of March after meeting local bikers in Aurangabad who had also heard of the ambitious campaign. Their enthusiasm for the cause made it a easier for our three bikers to carry on despite the heat and the strain.
On the first of the month, Aditya, along with Deepak and Pratik, visited a village called Digras outside Pusad town and met women who had benefited from Rang De micro-loans. Ramakeshav had started a beauty parlour as a way of providing for her family and she now proudly trains other women in a beauty parlour training school as well!
While providing livelihoods boosts household incomes, equipping women with vocational skills also safeguards the future of the family.
Aditya met Jayashree More who had taken a loan from Rang De to set up a tailoring business.
“It took me 9 years to set up my tailoring business. In the early days, I used to do stitching for free in order to attract customers,” Jayshree told Aditya over a sumptuous Maharashtrian meal
Today, Jayashree has opened multiple small businesses and ensures her family has a much better future than they could have ever imagined.
Next on Aditya’s trail was Yasmin and meeting her, our social investor was made aware of how financial empowerment can change age-old societal attitudes.
Yasmin, who had taken a Rang De loan, had also adopted a girl child.
Asked why she did this, she gave us a heartwarming response— “If something happens to us, it is the girls that help, not the boys.”
Aditya met several families and borrowers in Digras and was overwhelmed by their warmth and hospitality.
The following day, the #FightPoverty riders met Madhukar Bhangey, the head of SAGRAS, one of our oldest partners. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s message calling for the empowerment of villages, Bhangey Ji emphasized the importance of guidance and support in setting up livelihoods.
The bikers were left with just one thought — they set out to let people know about social investment but the journey had also opened their eyes.
“It was amazing. To see so much and interact with people in the villages. The entire trip, in one word, was overwhelming,” Aditya told us when he returned to Mumbai.
The #FightPoverty ride covered 1200+ kms from Mumbai to Yavatmal & back. You can still invest in the campaign and help provide livelihoods to women in Maharashtra.