Bikes for the World

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Central America Trip: Panama

La Asociación Panameña de Industrias de Buena Voluntad (Goodwill Panama) is one of Bikes for the World's oldest partners having been with us from the start in 2005. Since that time BfW has donated almost 20,000 bikes to support the program. That's 20% of our total bikes donated through BfW over the years.

Bikes donated by BfW are reconditioned in a Goodwill operated workshop, whose employees (managers, mechanics, and sales agents) are individuals with disabilities or are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The workshop provides income and skills training to employees while providing low-income workers and students with affordable transport. Reconditioned bikes are sold at affordable prices at Goodwill Panama's store in Panama City and through Rotary Clubs and other wholesalers throughout the country.



BfW Director Keith Oberg and Program Officer Kaila Clarke traveled to Panama in September and visited with Goodwill Panama. They met with staff members, bike beneficiaries, participants in the training program, and board members. The intent of the visit was to go over our memorandum of understanding and discuss ways we could improve our shipments to Goodwill Panama. The following are notes from this trip.

Goodwill Panama aims to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and communities by eliminating barriers to opportunity and helping people in need to reach their fullest potential through the power of work. They provide comprehensive job training and placement to persons with disabilities and disadvantaged individuals in industries such as culinary arts janitorial/maintenance, textiles/sewing, packaging, gardening, cosmetology, ornamental blacksmithing and metallurgy, as well as computer courses.



The bicycle project is incorporated to Goodwill's metals training program. The program trains disadvantaged youth (ages 14-18) as well as other underprivileged individuals and/or persons with disabilities in a range of skills.

The program begins with  bicycle repair with participants learning the basics of bike mechanics and moving through more difficult repairs. At times they may fix or even create parts they need to make a bike or bike accessory work again. Guys enrolled in the metals training program then move onto three other phases of metal work, ending with welding.

Participants can earn scholarships at the end of each phase of the program and some are allowed to keep a bicycle for private use. Many who graduate from the program then receive help to find a full-time job using their new skills through the job placement program. Most end up being welders where they can earn more income for their families.



Angel is currently enrolled in the metals training program through Goodwill Panama. He learned how to work on bikes and repaired this bicycle himself. He continues to learn skills through the program.

His step father has a welding business and he hopes to someday join him in the business using the skills he is honing at Goodwill Panama.

The bike project funds 10% of the overall cost of the training program. Bikes repaired in the program are sold in the storefront to help support the project.


No comments:

Post a Comment