|Hilya and Lazarus Ekandjo|
But that's just what makes this shop so significant. Accessibility. It was established to help local people gain access and to bikes and help them maintain them. Without this shop, people were forced to travel great distances just to find parts and mechanics.
|Hilya by the work bench|
In London is where she first learned about bikes. A year later back home, she was graduating from BEN Namibia's bike mechanic training. She enthusiastically returned to her village hoping to share this new skill with everybody who was interested. She has since trained dozens and dozens of people in mechanics.
When she first asked who wanted to learn, she was surprised who answered. "Only women showed up. There was only one man interested," Hilya reported. After some time, she became known in town and soon, "if a bicycle has a problem, they would bring it here for me to fix it."
|Like father, like daughter|
Lazarus Ekandjo is a priest with the Okafitu Parish of the Anglican Church. Father and daughter worked hand in hand to help provide care to residents in the community suffering from HIV/AIDS. Through Father Ekandjo's church program, health care volunteers were identified and offered training, using Hilya's new bike mechanic skills.
"Volunteers have to be able to maintain their bikes in good condition, otherwise they may have no money to pay for the service and this may keep them from doing their jobs correctly," said Hilya.
Beata Ekandjo, Hilya's sister, now manages the shop that Hilya started in 2006. They continue to sell bikes and do repairs, but they also sell items like solar systems to bring electricity to this unplugged community.
She and her father eventually created a brick-making business to help build a solid foundation for this community. Before, construction was often stymied when workers waited for bricks to be delivered from Outapi. This often delayed projects six months or more. Now, the bricks are made right in their own community, without delivery delay or charges.