Bikes for the World

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Bikes for Sierra Leone

Bikes for the World partner Village Bicycle Project (VBP) operates bike programs in both Ghana and Sierra Leone in Africa. We started shipping bikes to VBP-Ghana in 2005 and added Sierra Leone in 2012. Between both projects we have donated nearly 20,000 bikes since 2005.

Our first container load of 2017 went to Sierra Leone and was received and distributed earlier this spring. Just like the bike workshops we told you about in Ghana, bikes distributed in Sierra Leone followed the same structure. Participants are often selected by community leaders and take part in a one day workshop where they learn how to properly clean and maintain their bikes. They are also taught riding skills and safety in this workshop.

The first of our bikes were taken to Makambo Village and distributed to workshop participants. Over 25% of the bikes went to women and school girls.

On to Konta Wallah. This village is an island in the northwest corner of the country with a population of 700 people and is largely focused on rice farming.

Here 20 farmers and 5 students joined VBP and learned essential bike care in the program. At the end all were awarded a bike through the program. The residents of the town are still dependent on motor boat transportation to and from the island but the new bicycles will better allow them to travel around the island and access their farms.

Finally Binkolo, where VBP continues to work with St. John's Secondary School to ensure every student who needs a bike for transportation to school gets one. VBP worked first to get bikes for the students farthest from school.

Community organizer Justin explained, "Education is one of the challenging issues in this community. We only have one secondary school. Some students have to walk nine miles, that's 18 miles round trip- five hours of walking every day. A lot of students drop out of school."

VBP ED Joshua Poppel and Magdelene
Magdalene is a student at St. John's and she received her bike this year. "I was struggling coming from my village. I was coming late (to school) but when I have this bicycle, I would say I am the first one to be here. I am very happy and proud."

VBP has been back to St. John's several times already this year. In June VBP reported this, "a new shipment is now on its way to deliver hundreds of bicycles to Binkolo Village, Sierra Leone. When they arrive, our staff will help distribute the bikes to students and adults, some will be used in our mechanic training and others in our learn-to-ride programs."

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