Let There Be Bikes
Posted September 25, 2010on:
With your breast pump post comes my bike post! Although I think this particular bike post will appeal to your social conscience so you might appreciate it. Been meaning to tell you all about this but I haven’t had the time until now.
Its called World Bicycle Relief. While other organizations endeavor to feed the world, this organization has made it its mission to give the poor access to independence and livelihood through the Power of Bicycles.
Trek and SRAM (these are bike and component manufacturers) founded this organization. So how do bikes empower the poor? Unfortunately the poor do not have access to healthcare, education and job opportunities. In many developing countries, many people live in remote villages very far from their medical centers, their schools and their jobs. Children walk hours just to go to and from school. This pretty much takes away their time to rest, to study and to do regular things children should be doing like playing Wii – just kidding. When they are sick, these same people have to walk hours just to get to a doctor. So many decide to self-medicate instead of getting proper treatment. This is where bicycles come in. Compared to walking, bicycles boost their productivity and improve their access. How amazing is this! Such a simple idea whose positive results increase exponentially as more bikes are distributed.
World Bicycle relief doesn’t just provide bikes, they build communities. How? They acknowledge that each community is unique in culture, in terrain, in need so each community has a bike design that fits their need. They source their materials and labor locally improving the economic development capacity of each community. They also train locals to be mechanics for bike repairs and tune ups. Smart and simple!
This just appeals to me because bikes do not discriminate. Anybody can bike – except for my sister but let’s not get into that. According to Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times (who I absolutely love), they’ve distributed 70,000 bikes already and 70% went to women and girls. This year they project to distribute 20,000 more bikes. If that’s not a Yes We Can, I don’t what is.
It’s also the micro nature of this endeavor that makes it great. Theses guys didn’t have to look far for a solution. They took what they did best and shared. That’s it. Doesn’t take Bill Gates‘ billions to make a difference. Nor does anyone have to wait til they are retired to do something like this. Kind of reminds me of our very own teacher in a cariton, Efren Penaflorida. It’s little ingenious things like this that give me hope yet sort of corners me making me ask myself: What have you done lately? Ouch!
I recommend you read Kristof’s op-ed about a family in Zimbabwe and how a bike changed their life.