T E A M
Our MAD team is made up of unique individuals who all have two things in common: a love of India and a passion to
"Make A Difference" in peoples lives!
Our head guides are western bodies and Indian hearted. Having had years of experience living and traveling in India, they have a deep understanding of the county's culture and customs, they will assist you in bridging the cultural divide to ensure your journey is one of effortless immersion. Over their years in India, our guides have also had considerable involvement with non-for-profit projects, witnessing firsthand many of the issues at play and working to provide assistance. This has equiped our guides with a rare knowledge base of both the problems at hand and the organisations that are genuinely engaged in creating long term solution plans.
Accompanying our head guides on some tours will be guest teachers or facilitators, who will bring their wealth of knowledge in the areas of yoga, spirituality, kirtan or healing and share their expertise with us along the journey - keep your eye out for these specially marked tours!
And finally, our local guides… the people who were born and raised in Mother India, who share with us their inherent love and passion for this glorious land. Throughout our journey we will be joined at various locations by local guides who will provide the inside tips and tricks like only they can.
Together, our MAD team have the knowledge and experience to facilitate a tour like no other!
THE MAD TEAM
R A D H A M E L I S
MAD Tours Founding Director + Guide
Growing up in a deeply spiritual family, I was familiar from a young age with the Indian Vedic teachings and yogic system of living, so, naturally, at the first opportunity - 18 and fresh out of high school - I headed off to India. From those first moments when I stepped out of the airport, transfixed by the sounds, smells and chaos of Kolkata, I felt right at home. So began the first of many pilgrimages through some of India’s most exotic regions and its sacred temples and villages.
Although working over the years to establish my career in Australia, India kept calling and I found myself drawn again and again to the ancient land, notching up more journeys than I can remember. As exotic and charming as India is, throughout my travels I came across so many scenes of poverty, abuse and environmental degradation, that I began to find myself drawn increasingly to the projects working to alleviate these situations. Eventually, I stumbled upon a small grassroots project in the foothills of the Himalayas, working to help vulnerable children and families. I fell in love with the project and it’s beautiful people and over the coming years I continued to visit regularly, helping however I could. I soon realised that although I was helping others, it was really I who was being transformed… I now truly understand that losing yourself in the service of others is the most effective way to find yourself.
It was through my association with different humanitarian projects in India and wanting to help them further, that the concept for Make A Difference Tours gradually began to take shape. Now, fifteen years on from that first fateful journey to India, my life looks very different to what I had imagined it would as a young girl - life certainly had a different plan for me, with India at the centre of it. My experiences in India have shaped who I am by opening my heart and my eyes to a world beyond my own existence. India has taken me on the journey of a lifetime and now I would like to take you on that journey too.
“as one person I cannot change the world, but I can change the world of one person” - Paul Shane Spear -
M I C H E L L E C A S S I D Y
Founder & Operator of Essence Of Living Yoga & Pilates Studio + Guest MAD Yoga Teacher
Michelle Cassidy is the founder and operator of popular Essence of Living Yoga & Pilates studio and the International Teacher Training Academy on the Gold Coast, Australia. After first discovering Yoga and Pilates at the young age of 16, Michelle knew, with every cell of her being, that she had found her calling, and wished to share both the spiritual and physical benefits of the practice with others. Michelle’s yoga classes will leave you feeling stretched out, blissed out and empowered.
Travel with us on our specially marked tours to practice daily yoga with Michelle.
You can read more about Michelle at:
J A N N I N E G E A R O N
Essence of Living Yoga & Pilates Teacher + Guest MAD Yoga Teacher
I discovered Yoga at the tender age of 17 and have been practicing on and off for some 30+ years. Throughout my life I have been involved in many different types of fitness, years of dance, teaching rollerblading in Japan, kickboxing with disadvantaged youth, the works, but Yoga has always called me home.
I started my journey to become a yoga teacher with the gorgeous Michelle Cassidy at Essence of Living on the Gold Coast in 2013 and it was a decision that would change my life. I have been teaching ever since at several studios and gyms on the Gold Coast but I have also been able to offer free classes to a lovely group of Oldies as well as a weekly class at The Sanctuary, a refuge for women, children and their pets. I understand that Yoga brings us closer to source and I want to offer that to as many people as I can.
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel extensively all over the world, but it was the altruistic model of Make a Difference tours that led me to Radha. I have always felt that India was a necessary pilgrimage for any Yoga teacher, but had felt intimidated by the country, the poverty and all that I didn’t know about the place and its people. Radha showed me an India that cracked my heart wide open. You will see amazing beauty, from the Taj Mahal to the beautiful souls who nurture, support and educate the children from the slums. You will see (and financially support) the women who were once victims of evil acid attacks who now bravely stand up to fight domestic violence against women. You will see an India not accessible through the mass-produced tours because Radha will show you the India of her heart.
I am now the proud sponsor mummy to one of the kids from the Mother Miracle School, so I’ve brought home a little piece of India with me.... I now want to share this gift with you!
S A F F R O N W A Y M A N
MAD Tours Guide
Saffron now lives permanently in India with her native husband, after what started out as a 6-week trip around India over 5 years ago!
Originally from the UK, Saffron was living in New York studying and working towards a career in acting before heading to India. Her whole life took a new and empowering direction the minute her feet hit India soil. The immediate contrast from her previously “comfortable” western lifestyle made her question every aspect of her earlier conditioning and goals in life. And so the transformational education began. She instantly felt a deep connection with the people and ancient yogic heritage, feeling called to work towards creating awareness and empowerment within the poorer more vulnerable sections of society.
Saffron has now completed a certificate course in Non-Profit management and is in the process of learning Hindi. Filled with gratitude for the land she feels has been the greatest teacher in her life, Saffron hopes that others will also reap the benefits of what India so effortlessly has to offer.
S I V R A M S A H A N I
MAD Tours Adventure Guide
Shivram was born and raised in the ancient, holy hills of Rishikesh. The river runs in his blood and he loves the land deeply.
Shivram is a trained mountaineer and thrives on adventure. He is deeply spiritual, with a heart of gold, a willingness to help and great sense of humour, Shivram will guide you through the mountains like no-one else can - he knows the trails and secret corners like the back of his hand.
We are so proud to have Shivram as part of the MAD team!
You can follow his adventures on:
Facebook @ Shivram Adventure Tours
instagram: @ shivramsahani5
M A H A D E V
MAD Tours Rajasthan Guide
Mahadev is our local guide when traveling in Rajasthan. He is an absolute gem! Not only is he extremely knowledgeable and able to answer all of your questions about the local area and its history, it is also very apparent that he loves his work and his country. Mahadev is a true gentleman and it is an absolute pleasure to see India through his eyes.