Bikes for Africa
Eric Shaver, President of Derry Rotary Club pictured with Karen Phillips, the Council’s Director for Environment & Regeneration and Mayor Cllr John Boyle launch the ‘School Bikes Africa’ campaign at Pennyburn Recycling Centre, Derry.
Public urged to donate to ‘School Bikes Africa’
Derry City and Strabane District Council has teamed up with Rotary Ireland calling on people to donate unused bikes to their local recycling centre to help make life easier for schoolchildren in Africa and improve their chances of educational success.
The campaign entitled ‘School Bikes Africa’ is encouraging local people to donate bikes where they will be collected, refurbished and delivered directly to African schools.
For more than 6 years now, Rotary Ireland has collected and refurbished over 2,000 bikes – sending all of them directly to schools in Africa. As recently as 5 September 2018 they shipped 150 bikes to The Gambia – and are on target to ship a further 300 before the end of this year.
As schools in Africa are not located in every village, many children have to walk long distances (some over 5 km) every day without adequate food or water. Indeed, children from the age of four or five often journey to school along sand roads and across fields which is long and tiring. A typical journey could take at least 90 minutes – with children arriving late and tired for school. Having to walk such long distances – in particular return journeys in the afternoon when the sun is at its hottest – is not conducive to children regularly attending school or achieving academically. Having a bike to cycle to school therefore makes a huge difference to the children.
For the first time, Rotary Ireland are also sending bikes for children aged 4 to 7 who are attending nursery schools. Their journey to school is just as difficult, if not more, than older children attending primary school. Having a bike will therefore make their journey much easier – and the children will be more receptive to learning and less likely to miss out on school days. Having a bike is also a huge status symbol for the children – and they are always delighted and so proud of the bikes that they receive!
Speaking at the local launch event for ‘School Bikes Africa’ at the Pennyburn Recycling Centre, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr John Boyle said: “I am delighted to support this very worthwhile project.
"Many African children live in remote communities, a long way from their nearest school. Without reliable, affordable, motorised transport the only way they can get to school is to walk. Having a bicycle makes a world of difference for these children, their families and also their communities.
"By donating your second-hand bike this will enable children to get to school on time and arrive alert instead of exhausted, stay for extra lessons at the end of the school day and remain safe by travelling home from school in daylight.
“Throughout our City and District, hundreds (if not thousands) of bikes are thrown away or lie unused in sheds and garages whilst many schoolchildren in Africa have no access to transport of any kind.
“I would therefore encourage people to donate their unused bikes to this important project which is life changing for schoolchildren in Africa and can dramatically improve their chances of educational success!”
People throughout the City and District are being asked to leave their unused bikes at Pennyburn, Strathfoyle or Strahans Road Recycling Centres before Friday 28th September 2018.
For further information on ‘School Bikes Africa’ contact Project Officer Anne Carlin at Derry City and Strabane District Council on 02871 253253 or email [email protected]