Ride East team members started their 1,000 mile ride from Shillong, Meghalaya on October 15 this year Credit: EastMojo image 

Guwahati: In a unique initiative to promote United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), interconnectivity, cultural and environmental experience between the Northeastern states and beyond to Burma (Myanmar), a group of 10 bikers including eight foreign nationals completed a 1,000-mile ride called ‘Ride East’ across Northeast in 10 days.

Initiated by Worldview Impact Foundation (WIF), the 1,000-mile (1,609 km approximately) ride started from Shillong in Meghalaya where chief minister Conrad K Sangma flagged off the event on October 15. The group travelled from Shillong- Guwahati- Kaziranga- Jorhat- Sivsagar- Digboi- Pangsau Pass- Duliajan- Majuli- Tezpur- Shillong, interacting with the local community, promoting SDGs and also commemorating the 80th anniversary since the start of World War II.

Speaking with EastMojo, Bremley Lyngdoh, CEO and founder of WIF, spoke about how the ride started. “The Congress had Look East policy, they’ve been looking east since independent, nothing happened. And then BJP came, they said ‘Act East’ and I thought, come on man, let’s not wait for these politicians. Let’s engage local guys who care with some international friends. Let’s ‘Ride East’ because I wanted to do something about action.”

After mulling over the means of completing the 10-day ride they decided to use motorcycles. Lyngdoh informed that they calculated the carbon footprint of the entire journey including their flights, and they planted trees to absorb that much of carbon. In Myanmar at Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park, they planted 10 mangrove trees and another 15 along the Assam-Meghalaya border in an upcoming eco-village site which the “Ride East’ initiative is going to build.

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He explained that another objective was that each rider would commit to raising 1,000 pounds for 1,000 miles by Christmas this year, and then reinvest in an eco-village that they want to build in a project site near Assam-Meghalaya border in Jagiroad.

The village required roughly 50,000 pounds before becoming a fully functional spot for locals to train and interact with foreigners and show their produce and handicraft.

The cross-country ride had multi-pronged goals, and along the way, they inspired several others to adopt simple practices which can leave a global mark.

Premjit Narayan Dev of Green Route, one of the local partners of Ride East, gave an exemplar of this. He said, during their journey, they stopped at a primary school where the bikers had a conversation with the students. They spoke to the pupils about career options beyond being a teacher or a policeman and becoming something which their previous generations could never think of, like an environmentalist among other things. The bikers also explained to the students about the SDGs and found out that they were already pursuing it.

“Suddenly they felt inspired that they are not alone, they are part of a global campaign planting trees, learning how to take care of nature, empowering girls and boys just like the goals. They just didn’t know that they were already contributing to sustainable development goals,” added Lyngdoh.

For the next tour of Ride East, the WIF CEO said that they “will cut down the riding time and spend more time on community engagement and get off the bike.” There will be more focus on actions like planting trees or teaching at a school, and less on stressful long rides and spend more time on the community.

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