Transportation is a necessity in all parts of the world. Without it, work would be done at a slower rate, with more difficulty, or not even at all. In some communities in foreign countries, access to affordable methods of transportation, including bicycles, is much more difficult than in the United States. But what if there was a way for a nurse to be able to visit three villages in a day instead of just one? What if children could greatly decrease the time of the long trek from home to school and back everyday?
Bikes for the World is a non-profit organization that collects bicycles to donate to organizations in foreign countries. Then, they are distributed to those with the most need. Charlotte Davidsen ’12, Elizabeth Burdett ’12, and history teacher Mr. Woodard, are three Stone Ridge volunteers that help out at the organization’s King Farm Farmstead location in Rockville, MD for Social Action.
Early one fall Wednesday morning, the three were joined by three other volunteers at the site to load a large shipping container with bikes that would be sent to Guatemala. The dedicated volunteers made countless trips carrying heavy bicycles to and from the storage barn and the shipping container.
In addition to the several volunteers who work on site, much help is contributed from members throughout the community. 70-80 bikes are collected a day from a combination of donations, the 80 bike shops the organization works with, and transfer shops. Collection projects set up by boy scouts and other volunteer groups have also contributed to the numerous bicycles that fill the storage space to be eventually in the possession of someone in need in a foreign country. In total, about 10,000 bikes were sent by the non-profit in 2011, and about 9,000 in 2010.
Mr. Woodard acclaims Bikes for the World as a “well-organized organization” for completing its mission, which is to recycle bicycles and make them available to people all over the world who really need them instead of leaving the bikes to occupy a landfill. He says “I really get the feeling that my labor is a directly positive impact that ramifies across the whole world, partly because the organization does such a good job from this point with organizing, packing, and distributing the bikes.”
Charlotte’s interest in the organization sparked when Stone Ridge invited a guest last spring who spoke about the organization. She enjoys volunteering at Bikes for the World because she can “actually use [her] hands and feel like [she’s] truly making a difference. Each bike actually changes someone’s life, and it’s something we can do ourselves and see the impact of.”
Elizabeth chose Bikes for the World as her Social Action site for similar reasons, and to also be able to help the economy of other countries. Additionally, since the 7th grade, she has always had an interest in bikes, how to fix them and how to use them, and Bikes For the World gives her the opportunity to utilize her interest for the greater good.
A simple interest like Elizabeth’s in something like bicycles can go a long way. Because of their numerous donations and dedicated volunteers, Bikes for the World has made transportation easier for people in need across the globe. Nurses are now able to give medical care to more of the sick, and children’s journeys to and from school have decreased in time, allowing more for play and helping their families.
[fgallery id=3 w=550 h=400 t=0 title="Bikes for the World"]
Photos by Liz C. and Iana K.