“I’m 21 and my aim is to remain this young, and never give up my longing to meet new people, my wanderlust and most importantly my will to give something back to the society. I’m a traveller at heart and an entrepreneur by choice,” writes Aakash Ranison on his travel website. The 21-year-old has cycled over 18,000 km and hitchhiked 48,000 km. He has visited over 80 cities across India and Bhutan since 2013.
He began his journey on December 5, 2013 from his home in Indore and reached Bihar after visiting various cities. Till December 2013, he had spent only Rs. 30,000, mostly on food.
“Hitch-hiking is free. Some people provide food after they get to know you. As for resting, I go to Gurudwaras or Dharamshalas where food is free…most people are willing to help strangers. One common thing I noted, though, is that people want to know about your caste or religion. I normally discourage such conversations, as I am not a believer in religion nor do I flaunt a caste identity. This is why I changed my name to ‘Ranison’. It is in deference to my mother, Rani, who keeps waiting for me in Indore, and also serves as an effective tool to shun such queries,” Aakash told Hindustan Times.
He founded an NGO, The Golden Bird Foundation at the age of 15, with the vision of providing education to underprivileged children. As a 14-year-old, Aakash was fascinated by computers and wanted to enrol for computer courses. But his single mother could not afford them and Aakash realised, at a very young age that equal opportunities are not available for all and he wanted to change that. He wanted to help underprivileged children fulfil their dreams by providing them with opportunities.
To fund his NGO, he took up a job at an internet service provider company as a door-to-door salesperson. He travelled to Delhi in 2011 to register The Golden Bird Foundation.
“When I travel, I explore and it makes me feel alive. Travelling has helped me introspect and also understand my countrymen better, their real problems and what life means to them. This is real experience and knowledge and it is invaluable,” he told YourStory.
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Aakash is a graduate in Business Administration and he is planning to do his Masters in Social Entrepreneurship.
His regular journeys have also attracted sponsors, who provide him with the essentials for some of his trips.