Rotary Club of Belfast

School Bikes Africa

Getting a child to school in Africa

In 2012 the Club with 12 other Rotary Ireland Clubs collected bikes to be sent to be refurbished by inmates of the Irish Loughan House Open Centre, an open low security prison in County Cavan and then delivered to Jole Rider, a charity which distributes them to schools in West Africa.

Although the Club is not currently actively participating in this scheme collections by Rotary Clubs throughout the UK and Southern Ireland are still continuing. There are currently collection areas in Cork, Kerry, Carlow, Sligo, Leitrim, Clare, Galway, Kilkenny, Kildare and Meath.

 Over 5000 bikes have been collected and recently the scheme has been extended to include bikes for younger children attending nursery schools.  The Irish Prison Service have been involved from the outset, establishing a Bike Repair Shed at Loughan House Open Centre, where the bikes are refurbished. Individuals working in the bike shed not only develop the technical skills required to refurbish bikes, but their personal contribution is a means to improved motivation and has a positive influence on their self-esteem.    

jole rider bikes

Life is difficult for a child in Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa. The early life of a child faces multiple health issues from trying to survive malaria to having a balanced diet. Education suffers especially for children from rural areas, many children have to walk a long distance to school, some over 5 km, often without adequate food or water. A typical journey could take at least 90 minutes with children arriving late and tired for school.

laughing girlHaving to walk such long distances in hot sunshine to school and face the return journey in the afternoon when the sun is at its hottest is not conducive to students regularly attending school but having a bike to cycle to school makes a huge difference as they tend to be more attentive at school having not had to walk a long distance.

Students look after the bikes and they last them for many years. In Africa the advantage of bike ownership in a family can enhance life immeasurably and can significantly also improve their lives through access to work and essential services.

Old bikes give new lives to families in Africa.

Jole2The project was initially in conjunction with Jole Rider and in 2011 Jole Rider's founding Director, David Swettenham, spoke to the Club about the charity and how RIBI Clubs are participating with them. Photo shows President Adrian Kerr with David Swettenham and co Director Helen King.

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