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Ballymena man in charity Motorbike ride across India

A Ballymena man is about to head off to India in order to raise funds for a charity close to their hearts. The Motorbike ride will start on 15th November and finish on the 25th cover 1300 miles across India.

Here at Ballymena Today we had the chance to chat to Steve about his plans and their trip. Click here to visit Steve’s fundraising page.

Ballymena couple charity ride across India

Ballymena couple charity ride across India

I’m Steve, a blow-in still getting to grips with Ulsterisms after 29 years of living and breathing local culture. One never fully grasps a new people but sometimes seeing from the outside can give different and interesting insights that those inside may not be aware of. Settled here after meeting Rhonda, we have 4 daughters who in turn have started to spread their wings, settling in different parts of the world. I have many passions that range from environmental and social issues, sustainable housing, motorcycling, and justice. These have lead me to get involved in helping people in places like Africa and India, reaching out to those who struggle and trying to provide hope amidst their hardships, empowering through teaching and training, something I have also tried to instil in my own daughters. Life is far more than what I can get, we are all here for a purpose, made in the image of our creator and without whom we are nothing.

 

What has inspired you and your wife Rhonda to take this trip?

Having grown up, lived and worked in many poverty stricken places I’ve seen and at times faced many of the hardships those less fortunate than me go through. I have been privileged in this respect and this has without doubt shaped who I am, my outlook and values. In my work I have met some of the victims and seen some of the effects that trafficking has upon them. I was asked by a friend who thought I might be interested especially as he knew my connection and love for India and its people.

The name MUKTHI given to this ride is very significant to. In Hindi it refers to release and liberation, freedom from saṃsāra, the cycle of death and rebirth.

 

Tell us more about the MUKTHI trip.

I will be joined by 3 others from the Scotland and England. A few friends in India have decided to join the others already signed up.

Twelve of us will be riding the full 1300 miles while another 20 plus will be joining in at various stages along the route from Bangalore to Mumbai. Some of the challenges will be obvious like the Indian roads, volume of traffic and different driving styles to what we are accustomed to, breakdowns in isolated areas between the towns and cities, food and the temperatures.

I have become accustomed to these over the years but for some these will be completely new experiences. Then there will be times when we are taking about the issues of trafficking to locals, press and listening to past victims along the route. There may be some hostility by some towards what we are trying to do.

Photo by Aman Bhargava on Unsplash

Why have you chosen to raise awareness and funds for Oasis?

Given that trafficking is based on the exploitation of individuals, it has harsh physical impacts due to excessive work or the use of force by traffickers. Many victims are exposed to serious health risks, malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, as well as serious mental health risks. Anxiety, insecurity, fear, and trauma are all products of trafficking including high levels of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Children who are trafficked are all the more vulnerable due to their age and this has a greater impact on their emotional, physical and overall psychological development. Many victims experience social ostracism, isolated from their social circles, leaving most unable to engage socially or reach out for help. Some face language, geographical and cultural issues even within their own country.

Oasis, the organisation I and the others are raising funds for, are set up to help support victims of trafficking through all the stages from rescue, counselling, rehabilitation and re-entry back into society. They have been established there for over 20 years drawing upon resources and experience from working here and in other countries with these victims. As individuals we may not all be able to help directly but we can help and support those who are. You can help change someone’s life by giving to this cause, thus helping those who are on the front line in the fight against Human Trafficking.

For me it doesn’t stop here with this trip, but it is an ongoing journey of highlighting to others what is one of the world’s most degrading acts that we as humans do to other humans of slavery, forced marriage, domestic servitude, organ harvesting, sex slavery, child labour, commercial sexual exploitation of children, child soldiers and debt bondage. Figures released for 2016 estimate over 40.3 million men, women and children are caught in modern slavery. One in four are children. Please give to help those who are caught in this terrible form of inhumanity towards others.

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To support Oasis and their work to fight against Human Trafficking please click here. Thanks to Steve for taking the time to talk to Ballymena.Today – all the best for your trip.