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Spring To Action AIF Bike Ride

Shalini Dutta and Swini Garimella

On a beautiful Saturday morning on the first of May, the American India Foundation, along with its newly established Young Professionals Chapter, had their annual fundraising bike ride, Spring Into Action, a twenty-five mile trail through Concord and its neighboring towns. Twenty participants raised money to support AIF’s Rickshaw Bank project, which supports the livelihoods of rickshaw pullers in India.
Every year, millions of families in India move to urban areas to make a living. Often, the only option available to them is rickshaw-pulling. These rickshaw pullers are forced to rent the rickshaws from fleet owners who charge exorbitant rates, leaving the rickshaw pullers with very little to live on, and no way to save money to ever be able to purchase their own vehicles.
The American India Foundation’s Rickshaw Bank project aims to provide the rickshaw pullers the opportunity to own their own vehicles through rent-to-own programs, making the transition to ownership in as little as one or two years. When the rickshaw pullers can keep all of their own wages, they are also better able to support their families.
This year, the participants of the 2010 Spring Into Action bike ride, as well as its corporate sponsors, Rage Frameworks and Trinity Law Group LLC, raised over $10,000, enough to support forty rickshaw pullers and their families. The program also offers access to insurance, basic financial services and education for their children, helping pull the entire family out of poverty. The bike ride symbolizes and celebrates the hard work of the rickshaw puller, and each of the event’s participants, most of whom cycle very little throughout the year, were enthusiastic all the way to the finish. They were also supported by the AIF volunteers handing out snacks and drinks at the halfway point, and pizza at the finish.
The New England Young Professionals Chapter of AIF will hold another fundraising event in June, this time with the family friendly activity of kite flying. For more information about the event and the NEYP, visit http://www.aifboston.org and for more information about AIF and the organizations it supports, visit http://www.aif.org.

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