In March I will be joining Radha Melis on a Make a Difference tour in India. I’m so excited to be a part of this amazing tour, it’s unlike any other yoga retreat I’ve ever known.
I wanted to share with you more about what makes MAD tours different and how they came to be, so I’ve got an interview with Radha to bring you today. Enjoy!
Radha, we’ve known each other for quite a while now. Can you tell my readers when our paths first crossed?
While I was studying to become a personal trainer in 2009 I wanted to get work experience. But not just any old work experience. I really wanted to learn and expand. I was put in touch with Michelle and she told me to “Come on in!”.
After my work experience time was up, I never left! Eventually I completed all of your teacher training courses and became the Essence of Living studio manager.
After a few awesome years, I knew I need a change in 2012. I ended up moving down to Sydney to be back with my family. I was still unsure as to what my new direction would be but I felt called to volunteer in India.
I’d been to India many times before (at least once a year since I was 18!) and it had been in the back of mind that I’d like to return to a particular children’s home to help. So I spent a few months there volunteering.
I returned to Sydney where I went back to teaching yoga and Pilates. A business partnership fizzled out and my plans to open up my own studio kept falling through. Once again my direction was unclear.
So for four years I went back and forth between Australia and the children home in India. Spending up to six months at a time in India and then coming back to Australia to work and save for my next stint. Whilst I loved (and still love) the children very much and my volunteer work was so fulfilling, it was extremely hard to maintain financially and ultimately wasn’t sustainable.
When did the seed for MAD Tours first plant itself in your mind?
It was during the years of back and forth to India that the idea started to brew. My years volunteering with the children had dramatically shifted my concept of what is important in life and simultaneously had filled me with so much joy… I wanted to share this gift with others. I wanted to give people the opportunity to reach their hand across the world and make a difference. For them to not simply send a donation off to a person or place they will never see, but to actually experience first hand the difference they can make and how simple and truly fulfilling it can be.
What sets MAD Tours apart?
Make A Difference tours takes small groups of beautiful individuals to India to experience the yoga homeland whilst also giving back. Our tours provide you with both the opportunity to relax, rejuvenate and experience the wonder of a different culture, whilst also facilitating connections between the individual and legitimate humanitarian projects.
These experiences are designed to change you. To enliven you. To let you know that you can help. It’s all about making that link, that connection. Plus a part of what you pay for a MAD tour is given directly to help fund organisations and projects I’ve personally researched and visited. These are grassroots organisations, operating ethically to do sustainable work within their communities.
For example, at one the places we visit we will be dropping in on a project where they support children to remain with their families while also getting high levels of education which would otherwise be unavailable to them due to financial hardship. Not only are we seeing the great work, but we’ll also be sponsoring a child to ensure they get the best education possible. I’m looking forward to taking more tours next year because the more tours we have the more children we can sponsor.
At MAD Tours we are not a volunteer tourism project and we don’t feed into organisations that don’t have long term, sustainable, community-based visions. My experience in India has made me painfully aware just how many organisations are simply fund generating enterprises and provide no real long term solution plans for their so called beneficiaries. These organisations, while appearing to be doing good, are often causing long term harm. So I wanted to be sure to align myself and MAD Tours with ethical, solution based projects such as JK Rowling’s Lumos and CCT (watch this amazing TED talk by Managing Director, Tara Winkler).
What are you most excited about for the March 2018 tour with Michelle?
Back when I first worked with you, you said to me that one day we would run a retreat in India. And here we are!
I’m excited for the beautiful facilitation element that I know you will bring to the tour. You will help our group to process the experience – which will undoubtedly have some confronting times. I know you will enliven the tour with your energy and really make the experience mutually beneficial for both participants and the communities we visit.
Join me and Radha in India March 2018
Explore the diversity of Northern India, starting in Rishikesh at the foothills of the Himalayas, where we will celebrate Holi – the festival of colours and join the International Yoga Festival. We will then travel down to Agra and the majestic Taj Mahal, followed by the vibrant desert city of Jaipur in Rajasthan.
The power of retreat
A retreat can be a deeply transformative experience. Find out more about the benefits in this post.