FASHION THAT SUPPORTS A GOOD CAUSE: PHILEM ROHAN’S ‘CYCLING FOR HUMANITY’ - The Daily Guardian
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FASHION THAT SUPPORTS A GOOD CAUSE: PHILEM ROHAN’S ‘CYCLING FOR HUMANITY’

Cyclist and social activist Philem Rohan initiated the ‘Cycling for Humanity’ campaign in 2018, through which he would cycle the length and breadth of the country spreading knowledge about socially relevant and pressing issues and selling his range of T-shirts to collect funds in support of his work.

Noor Anand Chawla

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Young change-maker Philem Rohan.

With so much devastation in the world right now, shopping for clothing has taken a backseat for most people. However, clothes are also a necessity. The best way to marry one’s conscience with one’s sartorial needs, is to buy clothes that support a worthy cause. Young change-maker Philem Rohan’s initiative ‘Cycling for Humanity’ offers the best solution for this. Describing himself as a cyclist and social activist, Rohan founded the ‘Cycling for Humanity’ campaign in 2018, through which he would cycle the length and breadth of the country spreading knowledge about socially relevant and pressing issues. In 2019, he began manufacturing and selling his range of T-shirts to collect funds in support of his work.

These T-shirts are made in Manipur, which is Rohan’s home state, and are targeted exclusively at a young and ‘woke’ audience that believes in fighting for their rights. This makes them especially popular with students of schools, colleges and universities. “Sometimes, we set up small and temporary pop-up shops in restaurants or coffee shops where we sell our T-shirts to people who are interested in buying them. These measures have been very popular,” Rohan shares with a smile.

Perhaps the biggest draw for people is the fact that 100% of the proceeds from sale of these T-shirts goes to the ‘Cycling for Humanity’ charity and everything related to its campaigns and activities. In 2018, Rohan turned his fondness for cycling into a drive through which he felt he could best contribute towards the betterment of society and humanity. He partnered with a team of youths who shared his vision of serving people, and began this noble initiative.

The first campaign was a drive for a pollution free India, when they cycled from Delhi To Imphal in January-February 2018. The second one in March of that year, aimed at raising awareness on excessive pollution and the increasing use of narcotics. He once again covered the Delhi-Imphal distance in October-November 2018 to initiate conversations about saving the Sangai – the state animal of Manipur. When the Pulwama attack happened in early 2019, he cycled in honour of the Pulwama martyrs and helped raise funds for the family of one of the victims in Assam. Next, he undertook a journey from Kashmir to Kanyakumari from June to September of 2019 under a campaign he named #WaterforLife, to spread knowledge on the need for sanitization of water. His most ambitious project to date was the one where he was scheduled to cycle from Delhi to Tokyo in February 2020, which was to honour the voice of inclusion, dignity and respect. Unfortunately, this project was stalled in Kolkata because of the onset of COVID-19. He picked up his efforts again in 2021 to feed the hungry, by cycling around four major metro cities of India, including Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Delhi from February to April.

The ‘Cycling for Humanity’ community-driven initiatives have been feeding the homeless for over a year in Manipur, since the imposition of the COVID-19 lockdown by the government. Rohan shares that he has received a lot of support from people around him, as well as donations from private organisations. However, he has not received any sponsorships or grants from government bodies and is hoping they will extend their support soon.

His philanthropic acts have helped him build quite a following throughout the country, however, Rohan’s greatest fans are students. Since 2018, he has interacted with more than 2 lakh students from over 200 schools and universities across the country and has even been felicitated by Shri N. Biren Singh, the Chief Minister of Manipur, for his heartfelt activism.

When asked why he chose T-shirts as the mechanism to spread his message, he responds, “I wanted to create something that could be useful and memorable at the same time, and I realised T-shirts are the best medium for this dual purpose. As of now I do not have plans to expand my collection to include other kinds of merchandise, but I sincerely hope that more people will show their love and affection toward our work and buy our T-shirts.”

‘Cycling for Humanity’ offers three categories of T-shirts – the Round Neck ones made with pure cotton are sold for INR 500 and those made with polyester are sold for INR 300. The Polo T-shirts go for INR 700, and each one of these styles is available in both black and white colours. One can reach out to Philem Rohan on [email protected] to purchase these T-shirts or contact him through his Instagram handle @philem_rohan.

The writer is a lawyer who pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be contacted on [email protected]

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