This auto rally raises money for village schools

August 14th, 2008 - 10:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Aug 14 (IANS) Daniel and Tania Knight couldn’t have asked for a more memorable honeymoon. Driving in colourful autorickshaws, criss-crossing picturesque Indian coastlines, and negotiating gorgeous but difficult terrain, and raising funds for village schools will be something that will remain etched in their memory for a long time. The Knights were part of the 39-member squad of an autorickshaw rally styled Mumbai Express that arrived here Thursday and was coordinated by Chennai Event Management Services (CEMS).

“This was my first time in India. My wife and I had the most amazing experiences. This was a first time we drove an autorickshaw. It used to break down five times a day on the rough Indian roads.” Daniel Knight, a civil engineer with a construction firm in Australia, told IANS.

Echoing a similar sentiment, Dubai-based Emily Flintoff and Younne Reddineton, who are Emirates Airline cabin crew, said: “It was a challenging experience. Initially, we had a few mechanics fix our autos but then we did it ourselves.”

Flintoff and Reddineton are the only all-women’s team participating in the rally, driving a pink autorickshaw named “Compact Pussy Cats” and sporting pink sarees with traditional bindis on their foreheads and jewellery.

The rallyists are from the US, Australia, Britain, Canada, Norway, Germany, Hungary, New Zealand and Spain who form 18 teams that set out in 18 autorickshaws from Chennai.

“The 13-day trip from Chennai to Mumbai was planned with the view to see places in India and combine charity by visiting schools en route and assessing their needs,” said event organiser Arvind B. Kumar.

Sharing their experiences, Graham Metcalf, Hilary Wheeler and Lindsay Haywood from England said when they reached these schools, they were mobbed by the students. All of them wanted to take photographs with the rallyists. “Without much facilities and gadgets, the kids seemed so pleasant.”

Metcalf told IANS that he as well as the other foreigners had raised funds in their own countries for their Indian project aimed at helping needy schools.

“We have interacted with many schools on our way and provided necessary help to the schools,” Wheeler said.

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