One wild rickshaw ride to support Misión México

Mexico, 11 Feb 2016

Most people usually see the new year in by relaxing or spending time with family and friends, but Yohan Powell and Siobhan Brewster had other plans to kick-start 2016. They decided to use their holidays to participate in the notorious ‘Rickshaw Run’ in India to raise funds for Misión México.

Misión México, which is managed by an Australian couple, provides a home for up to 50 Mexican children who have been orphaned or abandoned. The refuge is located in the city of Tapachula in Chiapas, Mexico and has supported 250 children since 2001.

As part of their rickshaw adventure, Powell and Brewster raised more than $US21, 000, with matching from the Macquarie Group Foundation, for Misión México.

Both adventurers work in Macquarie Group’s Mexico office which has fundraised for the charity for the past two years.

“Misión México are very excited by the donation because it will have such an important impact. They are going to use the money to fund an entire transition program for young people to support them in becoming independent,” says Brewster.

As part of the Rickshaw Run, which organisers describe as “a 3,500 kilometre pan-Indian adventure in a 7-horsepower glorified lawnmower”, Powell and Brewster were provided with a “run-down” rickshaw with 75,000 kilometres already on the clock, to travel from Kochi in the south of India to Jaisalmer in the north.

After decorating their rickshaw and naming it ‘Jasmin’, Powell and Brewster set off with hundreds of other competitors in their own borrowed rickshaws.

“I’d always wanted to be a part of this crazy adventure but it wasn’t until we arrived in India that it hit me. For the first two days we ‘practiced’ and once we set off we were left to our own devices,” says Powell.

“We were just trying to survive with everyone else. We’d done an itinerary but we really had no clue and it was very hand to mouth.”

The aim of the hair-raising race is to get to the end destination however possible. There is no set route and “the only certainty is that you will get lost, you will get stuck and you will break down,” according to the event organisers.

“I think we were both separately panicking but trying to keep our cool at the same time,” says Brewster.

Powell and Brewster completed the route in two weeks, staying in budget accommodation along the way and travelling on all sorts of challenging roads, from eight-lane highways to mountain passes.

“We averaged eight to ten hours of driving a day and one day we travelled from 5am to 5pm spanning more than 370 kilometres. Amazingly we only had a couple of breakdowns but nothing a bit of tape or a friendly local couldn’t help fix,” says Powell.

Locals in the towns they travelled through were surprised to see ‘Jasmin’, but were more surprised to see Brewster driving.

“They would laugh at first and take photos of us. Only our Kerala registration plate confirmed our story but they were very kind.”

Image caption: Yohan Powell and Siobhan Brewster took part in the risky Rickshaw Run to raise funds for Misión México, an orphanage which supports up to 50 children.