Written by 7:43 pm In the News

Ride for the Children

Christ and Co’s very own Podcaster Vinay Antony Payyapilly will be riding 450km in 3 days, to raise funds for trafficked young girls, on October 2, 3 and 4, 2020.


Day 3 – October 3

5:55 pm 150/150 – It’s a wrap.

2:30 pm – 125/150 kilometres done.

Day 2 – October 3

5:08 pm – 150/150 kilometres done.

9:45 am – 60/150 kilometres done.

8:30 am – 30/150 kilometres done.

Day 1 – October 2

5:30 pm – 150/150 kilometres done. Slowed down by low blood pressure  due to electrolyte imbalance. Solved through liquids and sleep.

Vinay is riding his bike to raise funds for children who desperately need our help. While he rides, you too can champion the cause by contributing to the fundraiser.

A chat with the man doing it all…

Tell us something about yourself, Vinay

I come from a very middle-class family, with very middle-class values. I am a technical writer, which is a huge disappointment to my English teacher, who expected I would write something more exciting than documents for software. For much of my life I led what can only be termed a life of indulgence – working during the week, partying during the weekend. I never really cared about health and healthy living till about 5 years ago.

When did riding become a passion? 

It was in 2015 that I began to take my health seriously. It started with walking but that wasn’t interesting enough to keep me excited, so I picked up a bicycle. I have always loved being on the road – be it on my bike, car, or cycle. 2 km rides became 5, then 10, then 50 and then 100. I enjoyed the time I spent riding. I must admit, it was much better than spending it sitting in front of the television.

When did you begin Ride for the Children and why? Why for the ‘children’ and not for adults?

It was on one of my 100km rides that the thought just popped up that I should ride from Hyderabad, (where I am based) to Bengaluru. The problem with thoughts is they tend to stick around and keep scratching at the back of your head. But I needed a good reason to do something as crazy as riding 550km, there had to be some meaning to the activity. I decided I would do it as a fundraiser ride for an NGO.

It was easy to settle on ‘children’. It is all about the future. We had our chance, and honestly, we have done a terrible job of it. Our generation has let down the world and posterity big time. The earth is worse off. We hate each other. Inequality is higher than it ever has been. With all the tools of communication at our disposal, we hardly hear what the others are saying. With all the technology available, instead of creating a better world, we are leaving behind a world that is divided and at war with itself.

We have to bet on the next generation being better than us. We need to give them a chance to undo the mistakes we have made. Towards this end, I wanted to help organisations that work with children who don’t have the opportunities most of us had.

I am under no illusion about my good fortune at being born in the right family, in the right strata of society. It was not out of choice or hard work – just sheer luck. We, the privileged, put a lot on “our” hard work. I know a lot of people living in huts and shanties who work just as hard, if not harder, than anyone I know. But they don’t have the tools with which to break out of their limitations. We have the tools to do better than them even with half the amount of hard work, just because we were born into the right families.

How is this year’s campaign close to your heart and why? 

I consider childhood to be holy. It MUST not be tampered with. When you hear of what horrors these young children have to go through, you must confront that lost childhood. Movies have given us the image of the seedy guy who either abducts or sweet talks girls away from their homes and sells them. But even more than that, there are families who are forced to confront the decision of whether to keep their child or sell her so that the others have something to eat.

There are 16 million girls being trafficked each year in India. That is 200 full cricket stadia. TWO HUNDRED!

How can we call ourselves civilised if we need to rob 16 million girls off their childhood so we can have a moment of pleasure? The thought just drives me up the wall.

So when I heard about the Missing Link Trust on the My Indian Life podcast on the BBC, I decided that this year I would ride for them. In whatever little way, I want to help them do the hard work they are doing to protect our future.

How has the last three years’ RFTC gone? Who did you do it for? Any major challenges on the road? 

The first ride was in 2017. I rode for the Smyrna Foundation for the last three years. In three years I was able to raise about 12 lakhs, for various projects of theirs.

The rides per se were pretty cool. Like I said, I love to be on the highway. I think my support teams have it tougher. Each year my friends would take turns driving with me. I cannot imagine the amount of patience it takes to drive a car at 20 km/hour. Add to that the fact that I would be irritable if things didn’t go the way I wanted them to. I would be so focussed on riding that I would bark at every small thing that went wrong. But they were wonderful and really patient with me.

Raghuram, Biju, Vincent, Arun, they were all great pillars of strength for me.

How would you describe a ride such as this – how does it usually begin and end? Do you take frequent breaks on the way? 

Well, I don’t like to put pressure on myself during these rides. I am in it for the long haul. There are no prizes for finishing first or early. What is important is to finish. I take a break every 30 km or so. I let my body lose the tightness that comes from having peddled continuously for 90 mins or so. Then it is back on the bike.

The second year was a tough one. At around the 340 km mark my body just gave up and my mind too, I guess. I just could not get back on my bike. So I had to abort the ride. It was a hard decision and even today I regret not having completed that ride.   

Who supports you through all this? 

Like I said, my friends have been great. And it’s not just on these rides. Even my normal weekend rides, I know I can count on them to rescue me. So many times my friends or my wife have driven out 100 km to pick me up from some random spot because I had one too many punctures and had run out of fresh tubes.

I must mention my cousin Gabriela, who designed the RFTC logo. She is just so talented. She designed the logo and the posters for this year’s ride. For once, my campaign looks professional.

What motivates you to do it every year?

Good question. I guess it is the feeling that I am making a difference. I remember once, many years ago, a colleague asked me where he could find weed. He said that he wanted to get high. I asked him how much he was ready to spend. He replied 5000. I took him to the CRY website and asked him to donate there. The next day he told me that I was right, he did feel a high from the act of donating.   

We Indians are not as often into campaigns such as these, despite being a generous nation. Why do you think that is so? 

Just like my friend, we all want to donate, we all want to make a difference. It’s just that it is too much of a hassle. First find a cause, make sure it is clean, then figure out their bank details, add it to your online banking account, then remember to pay.

Through Ride for the Children, I want to make donating as simple as buying something on Amazon.

We all, inherently, want to help and give. We just need someone to show us the road and trigger the act. Ride for the Children is both of those.

What are the challenges such campaigns face online and offline? 

For one there are too many. It’s the same as with telemarketing, right? The way the algorithms on social media work, if you donate to one, your FB wall is filled with ads for people in need. Eventually, we become numb. All those ads become noise that we shut out. But the sad truth is that there are so many people in need. It is not a scam but a reality.

So anyone running a campaign needs to find a way to stand out from the crowd, grab attention. Unless you have a plan, it is very difficult to run a successful campaign. The best thing you can do is spread the word among your social circles.

Do you follow a strict diet and fitness regime usually? 

Haha. Not really. I am very bad at diets. I eat most anything and can’t say no to potato chips. I do maintain a diet, but it isn’t strict or anything. I just stay very aware of what I have eaten so if I go overboard one day, I make it up by eating less on the subsequent days.

In terms of fitness, I make sure I spend at least an hour a day on some physical activity. Yes, eating is also a physical activity, but I was talking about something more tangible. I either walk, cycle or do yoga. About a couple of months before the ride, I start to ramp it up slowly. So my the time of the ride, I am doing 150-200 km rides every Saturday. This helps my body get used to being on the cycle for long durations.

But otherwise, I am just as lazy and gluttonous as the next guy!

A detailed plan of this year’s ride please – from when to when and where to where? Do you think Covid 19 would pose a risk?

This year is interesting. With the Covid situation, I had to adjust my plans so I did not put my family, my support crew or myself at risk. So I decided against the ride to Bengaluru. Instead I am riding 450 km in three days – in Hyderabad.

The challenge, I guess, is going to be to get up each morning and ride knowing that I am going to reach nowhere but right back where I start. It will be an interesting challenge and I am looking forward to it.

Ways you can help:

Contribute to the campaign here: www.ketto.org/rftc_2020
To donate to Missing: https://www.savemissinggirls.com/donate-now/

For international donors: http://www.ketto.org/rftc2020_international

Kindly share and spread the word.

By Linda Joseph Kavalackal
Christ & Co.

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