Bikes for the World

Friday, June 22, 2012

It Not Only Takes a Village But Also Changes One

Beneficiaries mentor each other
To single out one individual beneficiary of the Bikes for the Philippines program would be missing the bigger picture of how this program is changing not just one life but an entire community. This project may have been born from the idea of one man but its success is due in large part because of the passion of many. And it’s not just about giving bikes to students to get to school but rather creating hopes and dreams where there once were none.
Typical household of beneficiary
Bikes for Education, the Baclayon branch of BfP, was created quite simply to keep kids in school. Great care was taken to identify students who lived 3km or more from their schools and were in danger of dropping out. In addition to these students, previous students who had already dropped out were approached and offered the use of a donated bicycle for reenrolling in school.
Many families are grateful to Bikes for the Philippines and Bikes for the World for loaning their children bikes to get to and from school. The parents are thankful to have their kids home more to help with household chores. The teachers are seeing improvements in test scores by having the students arrive on time to class.
Girls learning how to change a flat tire
Bikes for Education is now part of the curriculum in the school system. Students are required, as part of the program, to learn basic bike maintenance including cleaning the bike and changing a flat tire. They are also taught bike safety and handling and must pass a written exam before receiving the bike.
Because the program was implemented in waves starting with the adult education program and working its way down through the grade system, older students were given the opportunity to mentor the younger students teaching them valuable lessons in teamwork and leadership.
Although students must sign a contract stating that the bikes may only be used to get to and from school, beneficiaries often take part in community rides on the weekends. This bonding experience allows older students to continue mentoring the younger students in bike handling and maintenance as is necessary.
Bol-anon Cyclists, a local bike club of adult cyclists, also often participates in these community rides with the students. The students gain confidence not only in their riding but also in life as they bond with this group of cyclists.
Beneficiaries taking donated shoes to orphange

Some of the Community rides are just outings in and among the rural roads of their small community of Baclayon. Others serve a bigger purpose. Bike beneficiaries have delivered food, donated TOMS shoes, and even donated kiddie bikes from BfP to the local orphanage.
The donation of these bikes and the meticulous implementation of this program have brought a new world to these students. So many doors have been opened, friendships made, and networks established.
Beneficiaries take part in Earth Hour

Another event the beneficiaries took part in last March was Earth Hour in the Philippines. Hundreds of millions of people, businesses, and governments globally unite each year to support the biggest environmental event known as Earth Hour.
The Philippines has earned bragging rights for being the biggest participant in this event four years running.  A record-breaking 1671 Filipino towns, cities, provinces, and municipalities turned off their lights for 60 minutes.
Kids in the Bikes for Education program are learning more in school, getting lessons in life, and becoming more aware of global issues around them thanks to BfP. 
Beneficiaries visit City Hall
Even the local Government is starting to get involved. With the influx of bikes to the barangay and puroks (like our cities and towns), the Local Government Unit (LGU) has started introducing bike laws and regulations to help keep everyone safe.
Alongside the Bol-anon Cyclists and BfP Director Joel Uichico and school officials, the bike beneficiaries rode to City Hall and sat in on the Bike Ordinance meeting. This is truly a community effort at work.
Beneficiaries at Rock111
As students finish school and earn their degrees, they are also awarded the bicycle that got them to that goal to use however they wish. Some graduates will go onto college but more will enter the workplace. The bicycle will continue to be of great benefit getting them to and from work just as it had to and from school.
Through the generosity and connections of BfP some graduates have already received career training doing such things as baking, hospitality, food preparation, and farming. Bike beneficiaries have been placed in these internship type programs upon completion of high school due to their involvement with Bikes for the Philippines.

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