If you were wondering what the group of dapper men riding bikes between Thimphu and Paro yesterday were, they are the members of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR). It is an annual fundraising campaign conducted on the 21st of May globally to raise awareness on men’s mental health and prostate cancer. This is the second time the Bhutanese DGR community took part in the event. Like last year, the group of 60 bikers has been able to raise about Nu 50,000 this year, which will be deposited directly to the DGR’s official account in Australia.
The bikers in their finest suits with their vintage and classic motorcycles are about to start their ride from Thimphu to Paro.
Motorcycle club members from Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Gelephu, and Phuentshogling have gathered at the starting point in south Thimphu. With everything ready, they set off for the ride.
Besides this year’s event, the riders have been advocating other social causes in collaboration with RENEW. This year, the bikers and RENEW have partnered yet again. They distributed pamphlets and posters in Paro and Thimphu.
“Whenever we go on tour and ride, we always do these advocacy campaigns on gender-based violence and domestic violence. So, the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is the only thing we do for men because the rest of the year we always ride for women and children. But this year, because we have collaborated with RENEW, it is for everyone; men, women, children, and people of diverse genders,” said Leewang Tobgay, host of the distinguished gentleman’s ride in Bhutan.
RENEW says they partner with the riders as men and boys are also victims of violence and mental health issues, but not many of them open up about such problems.
“It is the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, so we are saying, wow! You all are distinguished, and you are a gentleman. And you all can do a lot because people really look up to you. After all, you are a distinguished gentleman. That is also to actually remove the notion that men are very toxic and men are always perpetrators. There are lot many men out there who are gentle. There are lot many men who can make a lot of difference,” said Dr Meenakshi Rai, director of the programme and services department, RENEW.
The riders ended the ride in the evening in the capital after returning from Paro. Although most of them are Bhutanese men, a few women and international riders also joined the event this year.
Besides RENEW, the event was also sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund and the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
Globally, the event was conducted in 107 countries this year raising over six million US dollars. The campaign was founded in 2012 by an Australian, Mark Hawwa in Sydney.
Edited by Kipchu