ICS returned volunteer Lauren Thatcher tells the story of what happened when Restless Development and VSO took some rickshaws out for a ride in Bristol…
Even before the end of set up, the beautifully decorated traditional rickshaw and its modern counterparts were attracting the public eye.
On Saturday 16th August 2014, around 20 Restless Development and VSO volunteers and staff spread out across Bristol’s Millennium Square offering a rickshaw ride and a Polaroid in exchange for a discussion on the progress of global poverty. A lot of participants, predictably, had a negative view on the effects of international aid:
“ I was a storyteller for 2 students from a local school who seemed a bit bemused by the whole thing and one of them had remarked that development spending hadn’t done much good/poverty had got worse” explains Dan, a recently returned Restless Development volunteer.
This was the moment the storytellers had been waiting for, a chance to tell their first-hand stories of change from their overseas placement. The challenge was to get those stories across and change a point of view in a 5 minute rickshaw ride around the square.
“ I told him all about our work in South Africa addressing Gender Based Violence, in particular the misconceptions surrounding rape and how this would help to create a culture where people understand rape and do not allow for “exceptions”, so to speak, meaning that our work was creating a sustainable, positive change.” Dan continues. “When it came to the end of the ride I asked if his opinion had changed. He said that after hearing what I had told him, he now felt that global poverty had been reduced in his lifetime. So it was quite nice knowing that there was someone, especially a young person, whose view I was able to change”
The public wrote their thoughts on a map after hitching a ride with our volunteers
The day was not only for the public, we had a few special guests attend: Bristol’s Lord Deputy Mayor, Councillor Faruk Choudhury; Kerry McCarthy MP (Bristol East) ; and Stephen Williams MP (Bristol West).
“My highlight of the day has to be being driven around on the rickshaw by Stephen Williams and interviewing him. He had so many positive things to say about the event!” says Nazzy, a Restless Development return volunteer.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Hitch a Ride Bristol was an absolute success. Karen, a VSO return volunteer even reached people to a point farther than anticipated :
“Two women (from different rickshaw rides) and one man all were inspired to think seriously about their plan to do volunteering in the foreseeable future and picked up VSO literature when they got off the trikes!”