Bikes for the World

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How Do They Do That?!

Students from RLSAA unload container from BfW
In July of 2015, Bikes for the World shipped its third container of bikes to our education project with Bikes for the Philippines. This brought our total number of bikes donated to the program to 1,500. It also allowed Bikes for the Philippines to expand their effort into several new schools.

One of those new schools was the Regional Lead School for the Arts in Angono Rizal (RLSAA).  A pilot effort began early last year with seven students who all graduated last May, just when our container set sail for the Philippines.

After the container arrived in Luzon and cleared customs, our bikes were transported to the warehouse in Manila where volunteers would soon start refurbishing them to introduce into the Bikes for Education project.  Because RLSAA is located nearby, students met the truck and helped unload the bikes from Virginia USA.

Operating a bike program in a country made up of thousands of tiny islands is no small feat. If only we could clone Executive Director Joel Uichico! How many times have we said that same thing here at home regarding our own Executive Director Keith Oberg!?!

Cristy, Elvie, and Eunice
BfP is doing the next best thing. As they expand and add schools on all three main island groups, Luzon, Visayas, and soon Mindanao, Joel relies on the help from dedicated volunteers and passionate teachers and principals within the schools themselves to keep this program going.

Elvie Jabonilla (seen here between two beneficiaries who have graduated and gone on to college) is the principal at Fatima National High School in Bohol. She helped establish our first school project in Baclayon National High School, also in Bohol, in 2011, before moving on to Fatima where she is now overseeing the Bikes for Education project there.

Through these enthusiastic educators who are on the ground and working daily with students, Bikes for the Philippines is able to operate and serve hundreds of students over thousands of miles.

Volunteers in Manila warehouse
Volunteers who teach, mentor, and ride with students are also a critical part of keeping this program so successful. These mentors live in the same towns as the students while some also travel to other islands to participate in community rides with the kids.

The hub of activity remains in Manila and one reason for that is the large group of volunteers available there to help prepare the bikes for the program. Once the bikes are ready BfP then faces the challenge of transporting the bikes to the remote schools on other islands. Another network of volunteers helps make that transport possible.

Carlton Styron
Visits to the schools throughout the year are important to ensure the bikes are still working properly and the kids are staying safe on the roads. Carlton Styron (seen here to the right) has visited Bohol many times to help wrench bikes and train students in maintenance and care of their bikes.

Many schools are set up so that the older students are trained first so they can help mentor the younger ones coming up through the program. Graduating beneficiaries have also helped wrench bikes and initiate new schools into the program.

Bikes for the Philippines has identified over a dozen schools throughout the country and over 1,000 students who will be receiving bikes through the program this year. The program is designed to help keep kids enrolled in school until graduation and relies on fundraising in the United States to pay for the shipping container costs. Read more about a generous donation last year that is helping deliver the necessary bikes to these students.

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