Bikes for the World

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Go Joe!

The Bikes for the Philippines' Bikes for Education project is one of our favorite projects we donate bikes to and not just because we've been there, met the beneficiaries, and even rode to and from school with them. This program, which was started about a year ago, provides bicycles to students who live over 3 km from school in an effort to keep them enrolled in school and eventually graduating. The students are taught how to ride, basic mechanic skills, and overall bike safety as part of the school curriculum.  THIS is why we love this project!

Courtesy: The Coffee
We were excited to learn that Bikes for the Philippines had successfully documented the first installment of bikes that were distributed in Baclayon, where we visited. They were ready for container TWO! This shipment of bikes, using the same model, would be used in the village of Maribojoc, very near Baclayon, again on the island of Bohol. Students will be hand selected and interviewed before entering the program. As with the pilot project, students will be allowed to use the bikes to get to and from school only, earning them upon graduation.

Andrew Glover with Plong-Plong in NJ
Back at home we had been collecting bikes, some specifically for this project. Jo Grant, who approached BfW for bikes for BfP had a collection in Boston earlier this year. Joel Esguerra, working with Gensler, has done a ton of fundraising for this project, as well has holding a collection this summer.

Plong-Plong, seen here in his BfW Tshirt, donated several bikes he collected in his NJ neighborhood for BfW. Because Plong-Plong is from Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines (the city between the two Bikes for Education projects) we made an exception and set those bikes aside for the Philippines shipment.
Bolandrina family

Fast forward to November. Joe Bolandrina and family, Grethel, Lilly, and Max! packed up the car and drove from Massachusetts all the way to our Lorton VA storage site to help us load this next container for the Philippines. Grethel had moved from the Philippines in the 80s and Joe had helped out at that collection outside Boston in the spring. They fell in love with the program and had to help!

And help they did. We got over 500 bikes in this container, which is now on its way to the Philippines. This family of four must have rolled 2/3 of the bikes in there themselves. Lilly and Max were troopers. Max struggled with quite a few bikes that towered over his head, but never gave up. And Lilly documented the whole trip for a school project. In fact we already had a donation from their school come in after a student carried home a flyer in his backpack about our project.

Lilly Bolandrina loading a bike from Massachusetts
"I'm Lilly Bolandrina. I helped Bikes for the Philippines donate bikes for kids and adults in the Philippines. I did this because my dad wanted us to come and see what it is like to go to Virginia and watch him help Keith ( the person who does Bikes for the World) donate these bikes. Bikes for the World helps Bikes for the Philippines. Instead of just watching my dad help I helped as well. I wheeled bikes from the abandoned prison gym to the container that gets shipped to the Philippines. It was very hard because most bikes were very heavy and the wheels would not turn on some.It was really cool to see all the different sized bikes and a couple of tricycles. Some of the bikes also were missing parts so they looked funny. We helped for four hours until we had to leave.

Lilly and Max sealing the container

Then tomorrow we came back again to finish loading the container with bikes. We crammed 501 or 502 bikes into the container . Most of the bikes were mountain bikes and baby bikes. Still, there were some road bikes and quite a lot of young children bikes. On the second day of filling the container we only had to work for two hours. I got to give the very last bike to go inside the container. Then my little brother and I put the little I.D. tag on the container to show that it hasn't been opened yet."

Thank you Lilly, Max, Grethel, and Joe! The next step is traveling to Maribojoc to meet the bike beneficiaries and ride with them. I'm pretty sure I saw Joe marking a bike to be set aside for him to borrow while he is there! It would be a treat to track Plong-Plong's (a long time friend of Joe's) donations as well as bikes the Bolandrina's donated.

Check out Joe's enthusiasm as he donates his older son's first Gary Fisher:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Teaming Up In Africa

Bikes arriving in Kenya
Bikes for the World is shipping to Kenya again this weekend. It's our last loading of the year and we need your help out at Lorton.

Friday December 14   10am - 2pm

Saturday December 15   10am - 2pm

Wheels of Africa (WoA) is one of our new programs of 2012. The organization was established in 2008 to bring awareness to cycling in Kenya and in turn making cycling safer in remote areas. But it's not just a cycling 'club'. Wheels of Africa provides donated bikes at affordable prices to people who would otherwise not be able to afford one.

WoA helps put more people on bikes and keep them safe
They have also donated some of the bikes given to their program to further their mission of increasing cycling in Kenya. They recently donated five bikes to Our Lady of Peace Primary School. The also took part in a Training Program in Nairobi teaching kids bike handling to sharpen their riding skills.

In addition to the work they are doing in the community to get more people skilled and on bikes, they are also providing adventure rides to tourists of all skill levels.  So if you are in Nairobi anytime soon, look them up!

Ivy lives 3km from school in Baclayon, Philippines
One of the aspects of cycling we at Bikes for the World have always been concerned about is safety. From our offices in the DC area, however, we can provide helmets with our shipments, but we can't be sure they are being used. In the Philippines, for example, the kids in the program are REQUIRED to wear a helmet while on a bike and it is strictly enforced. It's a contained area with not many kids on bikes, they are easy to pick out.

But when you ship bikes to an area such as Kenya or Namibia and the bikes are being dispersed over a large area to adults and kids it's harder to track who is doing what. This is when it's great to be working with established nonprofits on the other side with people on the ground doing that leg work for you.
Paulina Endjala, BEN Namibia's mechanic trainer

Even better is when two partners team up and work together. That's what BEN Namibia (another BfW partner) is doing with Wheels of Africa. BENN now has mechanics on the ground training new mechanics involved with the WoA program in Kenya. Currently, Paulina Endjala has been training mechanics on the island of Mfangano as part of an initiative of Bicycles for Humanity Colorado.

Here is an email they just received from Samwel, one of Paulina's trainees:
"Yes aim samwel from Kenya i am living in a small island around lake victory, i would like to take this chance to thank your organization for sending one of your trainer madam polina to our island mfangano . me samwel i was blessed so much.May God bless you samwel."
  post.  Here you can see a group from the Kaoko Bicycle Shop, a remote shop set up by BENN, with their Christmas stock of solar lights ready to sell.
Elephant Energy with BENN
Another group out of Colorado helping to bring safety to Namibia is Elephant Energy, who we told you about in a previous

Elephant Energy has been working with BENN to bring solar power to the remote villages where they have set up bike shops using the containers our bikes are shipped in. Using the BENN network of employees (trainers) Elephant Energy has been able to train locals in solar power, how to repair the lights and solar pads, and how to sell the product.

Courtesy BENN
We are pleased to see this partnership forming between two of our partners in Africa, Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN) and Wheels of Africa. With the successful model of BENN behind them and the partners BENN has established in Africa, Wheels of Africa has a great hub in place in moving forward.

From October 1st BENN facebook page:
BEN Namibia today began its support programme for partner organisation, Wheels of Africa, in Nairobi. BEN Namibia will assist WoA with strategic planning, mechanic and business training and share our experiences with developing a network of 30 bicycle shops in Namibia. The WoA bike shop was started with support from Wheels of Change, Montana, and Tour d'Afrique foundation, both BEN Namibia partners.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Big Bear Bike Sale

Saturday December 8th 10am-2pm

Tis the Season...for buying a bike AND supporting your favorite local non-profit. Several times a year Big Bear Cafe opens their outdoor area to local bike non-profits Bikes for the World and Phoenix Bikes for a big used bike sale.

For you it's a great time to come out and find the perfect used bike at an affordable price. For us it helps raise funds to support our international mission by selling off some of the high end road bikes unsuitable for the terrain of our international partners. Not only that but we get to promote one of our favorite local youth projects: Phoenix Bikes.

Courtesy Phoenix Bikes

Phoenix Bikes is THAT local group YOU keep asking us about! Phoenix Bikes is located in South Arlington and reaches out to area youth to get them involved and active in the cycling community.

Why are they so cool? Besides the biking aspect you mean? It's the kids of course. Phoenix is not just a local bike club or bike shop, they run a youth development education program and Earn-A-Bike program. The participants in the program are trained in bike mechanics, learn life skills, engage in problem solving, and learn the value of giving back to the community. These kids are learning valuable skills that will help them throughout their lives, all from the saddles of their bikes.

The bikes Phoenix collects come from a variety of sources just like ours at Bikes for the World. We value this project for what it gives these kids as well as the community we live and work in. Phoenix Bikes is actually a huge supporter of Bikes for the World! They often get in plenty of bikes that aren't suitable for their program that they in turn donate to BfW.

The ones they keep the kids work on, earn, and sell in the bike shop that helps support the program. Refurbishing bikes is something we at BfW don't have the staff to keep up with given we collect over 10,000 bikes a year. We will be at the Big Bear sale this weekend with about a dozen or so high end or vintage road bikes that were donated to us. These select frames can do more to further our global mission if we sell them locally than ship them overseas where they may not be suitable for the job in front of them. Our expert mechanic (and Operations Manager) Nick Colombo has tuned up these bikes and will have them available for sale from 10am - 2pm but come early, they go quick.

Phoenix Bikes will have a larger selection and variety. If you are looking for a mountain bike, single speed, cruiser, or hybrid this is the place to be! All proceeds from the sale will benefit our respective organizations and help us keep doing what we are doing. See you at the Sale!

Big Bear Cafe
 1700 1st St (1st and R St)  NW DC 
Saturday December 8th
10am - 2pm