Published: 28th November 2018
Meet the cyclists who have helped over 10k kids stay away from trafficking
The cyclists of Go Cycle have cycled across 30 Indian cities since 2016 and helped thousands of kids understand the perils of child trafficking
Did you know that every eight minutes a child goes missing in India? Let that sink in. At a time when kidnapping, abduction, child labour and child rape are scarily common, an answer to our prayers come in the form of volunteers on cycles. What is their mission? It screams the words ‘Say no to child trafficking’ loud and clear.
Lead them: Project leader Silvester Stalin talks to a few kids on child trafficking and abuse
Go Cycle is an initiative by the Gamechangers Foundation under the umbrella of Karnataka Sports Network, an NGO, which involves volunteers cycling across different cities in India, making pit-stops at every educational institution along the way. They interact with the students and explain the nuances of child trafficking. Go Cycle's Project Leader Silvester Stalin says of the initiative, “Go Cycle sprang up as an idea three years ago and stimulated our imagination as to how we could merge a social cause with a sport. The social cause we are looking at is child trafficking and abuse and the sport that brings us all together for the cause is cycling. This project promotes interaction with students, institutions and the public to promote self-worth.”
Get wheeling: Go Cycle team 2017 on a mission for a good cause
Who are these volunteers and where are they from? How do they cycle thousands of miles? Hold on! I'm getting to it. These volunteers are sportsmen from across the country and the world — from various cultural backgrounds — from states like Tamil Nadu, Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka. They start training well ahead of time, 3 months to be more precise. They are asked to cycle 100 kilometres every week to start off with and gradually increase the distance as the days go by. Three months down the line they are all set for their adventure for a cause.
Baby on board: The Go Cycle team this year comprises of 13 men, 4 women and Silvester’s 1-year-old baby daughter as well
While we all know that child trafficking is a dire issue, the real question is are people aware enough? Francis Selvaraj, KSN's Secretary says that people are not careful enough, “In terms of awareness, everyone is aware of this social evil. But are they taking the necessary precautions? Shockingly not! Every time I see or hear of a child missing, I think of my children and it hurts me to even imagine the grief of the millions of parents who lost their children to trafficking," he explains and adds a note of caution, "If we treat the children of today as our own and prioritise their safety, it will prevent a lot of crime in the future. Of course, the saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ totally makes sense now."
Achievement: Go Cycle has covered over 5,000 kilometres over the past three years
Three years of cycling for a cause and how far have they come? Don’t be alarmed when I tell you that they have cycled over 5000 kilometres, covering thirty major cities across our nation — benefitting a student population of over 10,000. Having achieved so much so far, Silvester goes on to explain what the future holds for Go Cycle, “The heart of Go Cycle lies with children and their welfare. For those of you who don’t know, a child is subject to abuse mostly within their inner circle of family, friends and acquaintances. However, child trafficking is a well-organised network. Go Cycle is not about just raising awareness but also building self-confidence and leadership qualities in a child, reminding them that their lives are precious and that each one’s existence matters and is much needed for a country like ours,” he adds confidently.