Our cycle rally team is in a very wet Bangladesh. They crossed over the border on schedule on 22 September after cycling over 300km from Kolkata. It was a nervous but exciting wait to see if the full team would gain entry to our neighbouring nation, especially as COVID restrictions meant only a small team made it through in our previous 2021 rally.
Among the team now making their way to Noakhali in eastern Bangladesh are beneficiaries, former beneficiaries, staff, supporters, partners and of course our founder, Girish. For many this is the first time they have left India, for some it was the first time they had ever left Maharashtra! We are excited that some of our cyclists have secured their first ever passports and have now experienced border controls and the formalities of international travel. Who knows where they will go next. For now, they are on an adventure, experiencing Bangladeshi culture, cuisine, language and more.
Of course, the main motivation for the rally is to promote goodwill, peace and harmony and the cyclists are engaging with many different people on their ride. Lions and Rotary clubs, gurdwaras, temples, mosques and educational and charitable institutions have provided warm welcomes and supplies along the way. There has been much sharing of experiences and knowledge and we know this is the journey of a lifetime for many.
The first Bangladesh stop was Rajashashi College, established in 1873 it has around 30,000 students studying in 27 postgraduate subjects. Affiliated with Kolkata University prior to 1947 it now comes under the National University at Dhaka. Students and professors joined our team for a discussion, songs and a pledge for peace and harmony.
Among our cyclists is Lorraine from the UK. She is a friend of our long-term volunteer, Nick. She has been in training for months and has also been fundraising reaching almost Rs six lakh to support our Snehalaya projects. You can follow her journey on our Snehalaya UK Facebook from the highs of getting into Bangladesh to the lows of falling in a ditch!
The Bangladesh leg
22 September - Sonamashjid to Chapainawabgonj (38km)
23 September - Chapainawabgonj to Rajshahi (37km)
24 September - Rajshahi to Ishwardi (70km)
25 September - Ishwardi to Kushtia (40km)
26 September - Kushtia to Sariatpur (380km)
27 September - Sariatpur to Faridabad (55km)
28 September - Faridabad to Noakhali (35km)
2 October – International Youth Camp, Noakhali