A little over three years since my first visit to India, which inspired the birth of The Pendsey Trust, I am excited to be shortly setting off once again, this time with my sister in tow, to help deliver 100 bicycles to some very special young people.
The Pendsey Trust has been working very hard over the last few months on a rather different project. It came to our attention that some of the young people and adults we help at our local partner in India, the DREAM Trust, are finding it difficult to access the educational opportunities we provide, and to reach the clinic; either due to poor infrastructure for those living in remote villages, or the restrictive cost of using public transport. We had already funded bikes bought in country to help some of these individuals- cutting their journey time and cost- but were aware that we needed to do more.
Thanks to the help and generosity of some amazing organisations and individuals we are delighted to have sourced 100 refurbished bicycles which are already well on their way to reaching The DREAM Trust clinic in Nagpur. The story behind this project really is quite remarkable in my opinion. Following some impressive networking by my grandmother, Margaret Palmer-Jones, she discovered that organisations such as the Rotary Club donate unwanted bikes to an organisation called the Margaret Carey Foundation, who take these into prisons and teach inmates the necessary skills to refurbish them in order to be donated to needy recipients. The Margaret Carey Foundation kindly agreed to donate 100 bicycles to our cause.
We then hit our next challenge: actually getting the bikes out to India! Shipping costs were looking as though they would stretch into the thousands, a figure simply not feasible for a small charity like us. Luckily, through a generous collaboration between SITA UK and F. S. Mackenzie Ltd we were able to secure not only somewhere safe to store the bikes in the UK, and shipping to India, but also transport from Mumbai all the way to the clinic in Nagpur- not to mention 50 kindly donated maintenance kits to ensure the bikes stay in top shape.
So after an exciting departure from the SITA depot in Yorkshire attended by representatives of both organisations on 4 July, the bikes sailed from Felixstowe onboard the cargo ship Pucon on 9 July. The bikes arrived in Mumbai on 30 July and as I speak, are hopefully on the road somewhere between there and the clinic.
Myself and Polly will be making a self-funded trip to Kerala, leaving the UK on 13 August, and will then be spending 24-25 August at our local partner, the DREAM Trust, to visit the homes and meet some of the children and young people The Pendsey Trust has helped to access educational opportunities, assist with the distribution of bicycles, and will even be lucky enough to be treated to a cultural performance by some of these young people. We are hugely excited to be taking part in what will undoubtedly be a very emotional and inspiring visit, and I am honoured to have the chance to meet some of these remarkable young people again after three years.
I will keep everyone updated of our progress and there will certainly be a multitude of stories to share after the trip, but at this stage I would just like to thank everyone who has been involved with The Pendsey Trust and in particular the bicycle project- Margaret Palmer-Jones for her persistence and belief in achieving this, everyone at SITA UK and F.S. Mackenzie Ltd for their incredible generosity, and of course all the hard work of everyone at the Margaret Carey Foundation for getting 100 bicycles looking fabulous in a very short timescale. The bikes will provide a guaranteed way for these young people to access both the medication they need to survive, and in combination with other funding from The Pendsey Trust, educational opportunities to help them break the cycle of dependency by entering employment and earning money to support themselves, their condition, and even give money back to help other young people with Type 1 diabetes.
I look forward to sharing news and photos upon our return.
President, The Pendsey Trust