What We Are Doing

Cycle of Change: Youths pedal to revitalise damaged health services 22 Jul 2015

Written by Richa Bhattarai, Communications Coordinator, Save the Children in Nepal

I bought a bicycle last week, and joined the Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge 2015 with my friend. We have pledged 500 Nepalese Rupees each. I am eager to complete the circuit for such as excellent cause, and you will find me here next year, too! - Shristi Tamrakar, Kathmandu

Since it began in 2011, the Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge has attracted thousands of enthusiastic cyclists like Shristi. Every year, on the third Saturday of July, riders come together to cycle a circular pathway of 50 kilometers, 75 kilometers or 100 kilometers around the outskirts of Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. This is no ordinary ride, though many of the cyclists pledge to raise funds for a special cause.

This year, the challenge was even more significant. Also called the ‘Recovery Ride’, the Kora aimed to raise 2 million Nepalese Rupees, which will be utilized to revitalize health services damaged by the massive earthquakes of 25 April and 12 May that shook the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal. The annual challenge was organized by Save the Children and Karma Foundation, the philanthropy wing of Social Tours. Two days after the cycling challenge, more than 400,000 Nepalese Rupees ($3931) has already been pledged. The funds will be used to rebuild a health facility in Makaibari of Bhimeshwor Municipality in Dolakha, one of the districts most affected by the earthquake on May 12. The health facility will reach out to over 10,000 beneficiaries.

Keeping up with this spirit of helping out their fellow citizens, over 2,400 cyclists showed up in the morning of 18 July in Mangalbazar of Lalitpur – a world heritage site. The entire alleyway leading out from the city square was filled with riders in their distinctive red and white t-shirts, which carried the message of the EVERY ONE campaign – No Child Born to Die. The EVERY ONE campaign's aim is put all efforts to reducing the child mortality rate by two-thirds to align with the MDG 4, hence using popular mobilization campaigns such as the Recovery Ride to achieve the goal.

Most of the riders who spent their day cycling along the rocky Kathmandu by-lanes not only understood this goal, but also took ownership of it. Said 14-year-old Aarambh Shrestha from Nagpokhari, “I feel proud of this challenge through which we can contribute to rebuild medical facilities. My family has pledged 1,500 Nepalese Rupees for my ride.” This philanthropic essence was applauded by Mr. Leela Mani Paudyal, Chief Secretary of the Government of Nepal, who handed over medals to the cyclists and encouraged their enthusiasm.

The ‘Kora’, which means ‘the holy circuit’, is a fitting name for the event that has grown bigger and helped more members each year. The event, which raised half a million Nepalese Rupees in 2011, has gone on to raise 1 million in 2012, 1.7 million in 2013 and 1.5 million in 2014. The number of riders has also increased from 35 in 2011 to a staggering 2400 in 2015. Apart from funds and riders, there is a sharp increase in the level of awareness of the riders, who have dedicated themselves to raise as much funds as possible in an environmental-friendly and healthy manner.  

Riders who completed the circuit shared their feeling of accomplishment, along with a desire to do much more for the earthquake survivors. And much more is what they require – with almost 90 % of the health services down in the earthquake affected districts, there is so much to be done. The Ministry of Health Population has sought 14.69 billion Nepalese Rupees for reconstruction in the recently completed Post Disaster Needs Assessment carried out by the National Planning Commission, a government advisory body.

In this slow ride to recovery, though, the riders have proven that - one pedal goes a long way!