Our latest container destined for Bicycling Empowerment Network South Africa (BEN SA) shipped from Canada last week. A group of Lions Club members based in Tiverton, spearheaded this effort collecting donated bikes around the region and pulling together teamwork from half a dozen Lions Clubs.
Bob Evans was a valuable part of Bikes for the World until he relocated to Canada. He was very knowledgeable of our program, where to find bikes, how to pack containers, basically all aspects of our operation. He was a 'go-to' guy whenever we needed a good mentor for volunteers. He would be a perfect fit for this group...and he was nearby!
The Lions Club packed 497 bikes into this trailer in just under 5 hours. The group opted for a 'live load' meaning they had one day to complete it, at a savings of half the cost. Given their distance inland it made more sense to beat the heat and get it done as quickly as possible.
|Nate and Dave in BfW warehouse in VA|
In our warehouse in Virginia, our volunteer mechanics strip usable parts off our marginal frames so that we can include them in the nooks and crannies the bikes form in the container once they are packed tight. With these spare parts, mechanics overseas can repair the bikes and keep them rolling for years to come.
|Morgan is a mechanic in Cape Town|
"Morgan" Solomon Chikumba is a mechanic that came through the BEN training program. He now owns his own shop called a BEC, Bicycle Empowerment Centre, in Masiphumelele (meaning we will succeed). He will make use of those spare parts to fix donated bikes for his neighbors who use them for work. Morgan, himself, now uses his bike for work and errands, saving a ton of money on taxi service.
When asked what he learned from BEN Morgan replied, "I learn a lot especially communication and understanding to the customers." He goes on to say the relationship between BEN and the BECs is like a family and its existence is an important part of their community.
In the photo above Morgan explains the brakes and gears to a customer, something every bike owner wants: a good mechanic that listens to our concerns and helps us understand how to care for our bikes. Success indeed.