Four cyclists to spread AIDS message


  • Nation
  • Friday, 07 Feb 2003

BY RASLAN BAHAROM

TAIPING: After being emptied of their pockets at gunpoint in Bangladesh, four men from India have not been deterred to carry out what they had set out to do – spread the message about the dangers of AIDS and the need for world peace, by cycling around the globe. 

The four who set out from Bombay on Sept 4 last year, arrived here a week ago and decided to seek shelter at a Sikh temple. 

A local businessman here, Baldev Singh, 49, sensed their predicament and on being told of their mission, he and his wife, Joginder Kaur, decided to play host to help them in their endeavours. 

The group’s spokesman, Ronnie K. Rodrigues, 29, said they were members of a Bombay-based recreation club called the Youngsters Sports Club. 

ON THE ROAD: The cyclists passing through Parit Buntar in Perak on Wednesday. They plan to cycle to Singapore before flying to Jakarta.

“Three days ago, Baldev Singh suggested that we go to Penang and after returning from there on Tuesday, we found that Malaysians are a caring lot,” he said, adding that Baldev Singh had also contacted some of his friends in Kuala Kangsar and Ipoh to host them as they proceed southward. 

He said they were flagged off in India by actor-turn-member of parliament of north west Bombay, Sunil Dutt. 

They cycled to New Delhi and 15 days later proceeded to Kolkatta (formerly Calcutta) and entered Bangladesh. 

“While going to a market in Dhaka, we were held at gunpoint by two men and we were relieved of our cash and credit cards,” said Ronnie. 

After lodging a police report, they sought the help of the Indian Embassy there before returning to Kolkatta where they received some cash from some Indian government representatives to enable them to fly to Bangkok and resume their mission. 

“From Bangkok we cycled to Haadyai and headed to Padang Besar but were not allowed in at first. However, we got help from a Malaysian Consulate official who wrote a letter, enabling us to enter Bukit Kayu Hitam and now we are here,” he said. 

They plan to cycle to Singapore before flying to Jakarta, Australia, New Zealand, North and South America, and Europe. 

“Our last stop will be Dubai, and then we head back to Bombay,” said Ronnie. 

Throughout their journey, especially in Bangkok, they received several boxes of scented condoms and held talks on sidewalks. 

“Other than distributing pamphlets on AIDS and talking on the need for maintaining peace, we also distributed condoms given by a condom manufacturer in Bangkok,” said Rodrigues, an eatery operator in Bombay who also works as a social worker. 

They are also keen to meet Malaysian AIDS Foundation officials and hope to visit Jalan Chow Kit in Kuala Lumpur to talk to the public there. 

The others in the cycling team are biscuit factory worker Dennic K. Rodrigues, 31, from Bombay, Vijay Kumar, 32, and Satish Kumar, 30, both textile factory workers from Punjab. 

Those interested in contacting the cyclists can reach them at ronnie_kesian@yahoo.co.in or ronnie_kiran@hotmail.com 

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