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Village Bike Project: Distributing Bikes and Education Across Africa

Nominated by Adam Werbach

There are times when the problems of the world seem so overwhelming that you just want to do something simple, something clear, something that will help one person live a better life. Last month a friend who worked with me resigned to go to Sierra Leone and help girls learn how to ride and repair bikes. It was hard to see Brittany go, but I hope you’ll join me in supporting her as she begins a women's bicycle education program in the town of Lunsar. Brittany’s project is an extension of the work that the Village Bicycle Project has been doing for the last 10 years in Ghana. Since 1999, the Village Bicycle Project has provided 36,000 bicycles, included 5,500 people in bicycle maintenance workshops, and distributed 15,000 tools in 12 African countries. Since 2006, over 1000 women have participated in women-centric workshops.

Brittany’s focus for the next 7 months will be on educating young girls about how to ride a bike and basic bike maintenance skills so that they too can have greater freedom to get to and from their farms, markets, schools and surrounding villages. You can see Brittany talking about the effort in this video:

(More video coverage from Current TV here.)

How can you help?

Give a little bit! In appreciation for WorldChanging’s attention grant, I’ll match everyone’s donation dollar for dollar up to $400.00 (which is the cost of getting 20 people half-price bikes.) Make a donation. Then send me a note on Facebook when you donate, and I’ll make the matching gift.

And if you can quit your job (or if the recession offers you the opportunity) and travel for at least six months, click here for information on how to volunteer like Brittany.

This piece is part of Worldchanging's Attention Philanthropy campaign. All week long, the Worldchanging Network will be delivering "attention grants" to worthy projects, individuals, resources and more. You can learn more about these gifts of notice and find other entries by clicking here.

Photo credit: Flickr/Jenny Downing, Creative Commons License.

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Let's face it, we live pretty comfortable lives. Even through economic downturns, few of us will actually be homeless or without a crust of bread to feed ourselves and our families.

Being on the ground here in Lunsar has certainly helped me to understand just how lucky we have it. Starting with electricity. Secondly, with our transportation. We have bikes, cars, trains, buses, planes, pogo sticks and hot air balloons. The people here in Africa have their own two feet.

I have 30 little kids come visit me every single day here, begging me to let them ride the 15 bicycles I have available for teaching. These kids would give anything to have a bicycle to call their own, but they aren't even available here to purchase.

By donating, you could make a dynamic difference in the lives of these children. For example, many kids as young as 4-5 years old spend 2 hours walking to and from school every day. With a bicycle, they could lessen their commute, spend more time with the family, get more sleep, have more time to earn money, and have additional educational opportunities available!

Posted by: Brittany Richardson on 8 Jul 09

I will like to get the Brittany, I believe this initiatives should be extend to Nigeria, especially to those in the Riverside areas and in the city, so that people can reduce their carbon foot prints

Posted by: Adewole on 10 Jul 09

This is a wonderful job by Brittany and her friends. The village bike project will go along way in assisting the less fortunate members of the society in Sierra Leone. In addition to this; it will assist in combating climate change and as Green Warriors Movement (Community Based Organization in Maasai Mara-Kenya)highly appraises you. Thank you.

Posted by: Cyrus Gachanja on 6 Aug 09

Brittany's work in Sierra Leone is brilliant. It follows the principle of 'Give someone a fish and you'll feed them for a day, TEACH them to fish and you'll feed them for a lifetime'
That's precisely why I'm against Aid when it is just splashing well intentioned Westerners' cash around hoping that it'll do some good. Fat chance - it's the despots and bandits who get the money, not those whose lives could be saved by it!
Sorry to sound angry, but that's what I am. I've not been to Sierra Leone but I have spent time in NIgeria and Ghana and I can say that Brittany's project is not only admirable but it WILL work and make a lasting difference because no bloated criminals can take away people's knowledge and expertise.
But it's so much more difficult to do this sort of thing than it is to just throw other people's money away from the comfort of an air-con office thousands of miles away.
If only ... if only there were thousands of people like Brittany and if only the despots were removed, forcibly and permanently. After all, they are responsible for countless 1000s of premature deaths and untold human suffering!

Succeed Online

Posted by: Chris on 10 Jul 10

It is amazing what we take for granted here in the west. This article gave me much needed insight into the realities of this part of the world. Thanks!

Posted by: guy on 11 Jul 10

Even in the West, we maybe don't do enough about using bikes in our own society. I live in the far south of Australia where it gets pretty cold in winter and still manage to ride to work about 10kms each way. It's amazing how fit you remain and can front up for the ride every day.

About Me

Posted by: Robert Dyson on 14 Jul 10

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