It was in 2012 that Matthew Brice got the first taste of India when he cycled solo from Delhi to Goa, traversing 4,000 km over a six-month period. And, from that journey, Matthew was allured with the land and later in 2013, he decided to hit on the roads on his custom-made bike for a cause. His expedition ‘Cycle for a Brighter Futures’ is aimed at helping the less-fortunate children of India and thus give them an opportunity to gain education.
This time, his sojourn will cover over 4,300 km on bicycle from Goa to Varanasi following the coastal route. “I wanted to give something back to India. And, during my earlier expeditions I felt there were hundreds of poor children who are deprived of education and are made to work to support the family,” says Matthew who reached Kochi the other day covering around 800 kms already.
Incidentally, Matthew kick started his biking from Goa on November 14, the Children’s Day. It would take seven months for Matthew to cover the entire expedition.
“During this period, I will appeal to the youth of India, professionals, social activists and celebrities alike to take part in this advocacy campaign to educate and uplift children who need it the most,” says 33-year-old Matthew.
The fund raised by Matthew, fondly called Matt, will go directly to the Australian NGO ‘Forget Me Not Children’s Home’ who will then source it to Delhi-based NGO ‘Lakshya Aakriti Foundation’.
“The NGO aims to teach children early numeracy and literacy skills in preparation for enrollment into formal education and thus get a second chance in life. It’s function is to operate school readiness programmes for children where they can be taught basic classroom skills, participation, cooperation, art, music, and early literacy. The centre will also obtain birth certificates in preparation for formal school enrolment. Together, we are committed to the protection of vulnerable children and freedom from poverty through innovative community-based empowerment programmes,” says Matt who is from Australia.
So, what inspired him to choose India? He says, “I always had a connection with India as I used to practice yoga in Australia. My yoga teachers are traditional and from them I got to know about Indian mythology and epics like the Bhagavat Gita, keertans and mantras. This really inspired and influenced me a lot.”
Matt’s journey which is full of challenges and rewarding experiences is bowled over with people’s generosity and kindness. “I have noticed that Indians are hardworking and kind. Even the most poorest were generous and helped me in times of need. During my visit in Mahi, I was having tea from a teashack. There I met a localite and shared the experiences of my journey. He then invited me over breakfast at his home. That really surprised me,” he says.
Interestingly, Matt who is also a chef by profession, is not only amazed by the beauty of the land and its people but also equally tantalised by its delicacies.
“I attended a cooking class in Kochi, where I learned to cook fish curry, pumpkin curry, cabbage ‘thoran’ and eggplant masala. My favourite Indian food is ‘Baingan bharta’,” he says.
Matt runs a restaurant with his partner in Sydney that serves exclusive Indian food.
Matt, after a brief stay in Kochi, will be cycling forward to Alappuzha on Wednesday. His expedition can also be followed through the Facebook page ‘Cycle for Brighter Futures’ or through the website www.cycleforbrighterfutures.com.