Bikes for the World

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Promoting Local Business

Rita Putebil Courtesy Jason Finch
Continuing our series on Village Bicycle Project (VBP) today we focus on the advanced mechanic class. Last year we introduced you to Rita Putebil, an 18 year old student who participated in the advanced class in Laabissi.

During training she asked questions and volunteered for every demonstration. She impressed the training team so much they stayed an extra day to show her further skills like pulling cranks and adjusting hub assemblies. VBP gifted her a set of tools and she is now maintaining the bikes in Laabissi.

Newly trained mechanics in Biama
Just last month VBP returned to the field traveling to three villages in the Brong-Ahafo Region. With the support of Re~Cycle VBP carried with them 260 bikes and 800 tools that would be distributed among participants in their workshops.

During the one-day workshops new bike owners learn every day maintenance and simple skills like how to fix a flat. People who have taken this class in the past are invited back for a more advanced mechanics class when the team returns. Some participants received their bikes over four years ago.

Local supply shop
Many local bike parts and supplies are very expensive, some hard to come by. Tubes and tires made for the American market are often of a higher quality rubber that they are preferred even used over the new tubes available in Africa.

This is why your donated parts, tubes, and tires are so important to Bikes for the World. We pass those on, packing them under cranks and between frames when we ship a container to Africa. VBP then ferries them across Ghana and into the local markets where your donated bikes end up.

New bike owners are taught only the basic upkeep of a bike in the one-day workshop. VBP trainers then pass along the local mechanic's contact information and encourage bike owners to visit them for the more extensive repairs. Promoting local business and mechanics is a high priority in the program.

Biama mechanic Maxwell
In fact during the recent visit to Biama, VBP trainers sought out the known local mechanic to invite him to the classes. They found Maxwell who was eager to participate.

Maxwell helped the trainers in class and then received further training that will help him in his business. He learned how to extract cranks, break chains, and adjust hub assemblies, just like Rita from last year. VBP also gifted him with a set of tools and promoted his business throughout the classes.

Biama, by the way, is known as 'the place where nobody will go'. Village Bicycle Project went, they taught, they conquered the complex workings of the bicycle and passed that knowledge on to keep your old bike rolling and in good shape. In case you were wondering, the 'rust' color in the photo above in not actual rust, it's Ghanaian dirt.


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