Riding Rickshaws Through India

In August, Brendon Deeley and his mate Matthew Sutherland put the pedal to the floor and embarked on a crazy challenge: riding a rickshaw from one side of India to the other. As well as giving them an interesting story to tell for the rest of their lives, the boys wanted to make a lasting difference by fundraising for Compassion in the process.

21 Sep, 2015

Riding Rickshaws Through India

After hearing about a company online that sets you up with a rickshaw to ride in India, Matthew told his friend of 13 years Brendon about his idea to ride it across the massive South Asian country. At this point it was a pipe-dream, an idea most likely to never come to fruition. Brendon was the wrong person to tell.

“He threw the idea out to me and I’m probably the wrong person to throw it out to if he thought it was a stupid idea, because I jumped on it,” says Brendon. “I thought ‘okay that’s good, let’s do it’.”

So they did.

In August 2015, Brendon and Matthew spent 15 days in India, riding their rickshaw from Shillong in the far northeast of India to Kochi in the far southwest corner. On such a tight time frame, the boys had to spend on average 12 hours each day on their rickshaw with a map sorting out their accommodation for the night.

“Our days involved working out where we were and working out a town that might be around about 250 kilometress away and saying ‘that’s our goal for today, we need to get to that town’ and then figure out a way to get there,” says Brendon.

Learning to ride the rickshaw was their least of their problems—Brendon likened it to a motorbike without the balance issues. They were more concerned about keeping it moving.

Riding Rickshaws photo 3

“The rickshaw would break down on average about twice a day,” says Brendon. “In the first week it broke down probably four times a day.”

What could have been seen as a major frustration (and was at times) led to some of the more memorable experiences of the trip, where Brendon and Matthew had the opportunity to interact with locals along the way.

“Whenever the rickshaw broke down, it didn’t matter if you were in the middle of town or in the middle of the countryside, within a couple of minutes, people would just materialise out of nowhere,” says Brendon.

“I think most of them didn’t have a clue what they were doing. Just like us, everyone’s a mechanic so you end up with 20 ‘mechanics’ who have no idea what they’re doing trying to help you.”

Riding Rickshaws photo 1

Brendon and Matthew enjoyed the time spent with the locals, learning that while you may not speak the language, laughter is universal.

“You’d be interacting with the kids who couldn’t speak any English and you couldn’t understand them but you’d be having a laugh and the kids would be laughing,” says Brendon. “I think that’s the [main] thing I took away in terms of experiences, those actual experiences of interaction.”

With long days on a rickshaw in humid heat, sometimes questionable accommodation, some of the best street food they’d eaten, and more than the occasional breakdown, Brendon and Matthew have the perfect recipe for an amazing story—including the knowledge that they did it all to make a difference to the lives of children living in poverty.

After sponsoring a child for the first time at Hillsong Conference 2014, Brendon learned about the work of Compassion and thought that using their rickshaw adventure to fundraise for Compassion made perfect sense.

“Obviously Compassion does a wonderful job throughout the world, so it seemed like a logical choice,” says Brendon. “Knowing Compassion does work within India, it seemed relevant to what we were doing.”

Over $8000 has been raised for Compassion to support HIV/AIDS education and testing across India through Critical Needs by the boys with Brendon matching every donation given, dollar for dollar.

”The beauty of fundraising with Compassion is you’re doing work all over the world so wherever someone has a passion to support, you could do it.”

You don’t need to ride a rickshaw to fundraise for Compassion! If you’re interested in fundraising for Compassion, please let us know and register your interest here.

This content was correct at the time of publishing. Compassion closed its programs in India on 15 March 2017 and no longer works in that nation.

Words by Monique Wallace

Photos supplied by Brendon Deeley and Matthew Sutherland

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