I first travelled India in 1994, criss-crossing the continent by sleeper train, as many backpackers do. For a young adventurer it was a brilliant formative few weeks that left a long-lasting impact.
Talk to anyone who has travelled India by train and they will wax lyrical about their experiences and many, like me, often find they have to return, perhaps in a way to check what they experienced was real!
I indeed returned to India just a few years later this time for work in the paradise state of Goa. I lived in a gated condominium a stone’s throw from the beach with a swimming pool. I ate out every night normally at some outdoor seafood bistro and watched the footy late on a Saturday night in a beach side bar. Life was good in my twenties, with little responsibility. I love India and intend to return again one day.
Whilst I took much from my time in India, some of the eye-opening experiences I enjoyed were matched by many experiences I didn’t enjoy. To put it simply, the destitution and poverty that could be seen every day was hard to stomach and has left indelible memories for me, particularly where I witnessed children, who through no fault of their own, were completely entrenched in a cesspit of poverty.
To be fair to India, this situation was sadly common to plenty of other countries I subsequently visited. Time and again there is a certain hopelessness you feel as a tourist as you can do little to change their circumstance.
there is a certain hopelessness you feel as a tourist as you can do little to change their circumstance.
More latterly, I became aware that child poverty is not a condition only found in so-called Third World countries, but quite prevalent in the two countries I have had the pleasure to call home, the UK & New Zealand. Some of the stories you read are a sad indictment of our modern lives.
As time has passed, particularly with the advent of becoming a father myself to three fine young boys, I have looked for a means in some way to give a little back and play a positive role in society. I accept I am never going to solve the major issues, but I often thought it would be the right thing to do by offering a means to put a smile on a deserving child’s face, allowing them a moment to enjoy life as I have done.
In founding LOCO Journeys, I realised that I had a vehicle in which to satisfy my conscience and the idea of The Railway Children was soon born.
At this time it is merely an acorn of an idea but I am certain it will grow into a wonderful, multifaceted part of the LOCO journey that we are travelling on. In many ways, The Railway Children is already an integral part of what LOCO Journeys stands for which is to “create defining moments for our customers, our staff and ourselves”. What better thing to do than to give a child a moment that they will remember, hopefully forever.
We intend to start small so this coming year LOCO Journeys will offer one deserving child the chance to travel on a train journey in New Zealand and enjoy a great day out accompanied by their favourite adult be it Mum, Grandpa or Great Aunty Beryl.
So watch this space! We will be taking applications soon for that special kid, maybe one who has never had the pleasure of riding a train! In the meantime, if you would like to donate funds to help our cause please visit our Givealittle page