It was recommended to me that I start making one post a week covering an empowering and/or uplifting project or news story.
I know that this is counter to the dissenting opinion theme, but I feel if we spend time and energy not only drawing attention to injustice through our dissent; but also taking notice of uplifting stories of empowerment that can also occasionally be done at our hands we will all be the better.
So for my first of a weekly series: “A boy and a Bicycle(s)”
Nicholas Kristof in a story at the N.Y. Times tells us about a young group of orphans in Zimbabwe attempting to live on there own and overcome the trials of traveling hours on foot each day in order to get to school and back. The wish of the oldest of these orphans, a young man named Abel was granted by a Chicago based aid organization World Bicycle Relief that has given out more then 70,000 bicycles to date. The organization has plans to distribute an additional 20,000 more bicycles this year. The program was the idea of a Chicago businessman, Frederick K.W. Day senior executive of the SRAM Corporation.
The original idea was to ship bicycles from the US, but after visiting he decided they would not last the conditions on the ground. He is quoted as saying “When we got out there, it was clear that no bike made in the U.S. would survive in that environment,”.
After identifying the spare parts available in most of these remote areas a 55 pound 1 speed bicycle was designed and built. In order that these bicycles can last and are not just another great idea that isn’t sustainable; for every 50 bicycles distributed World Bicycle Relief trains and equips one mechanic with basic tools and spare parts. Abel was chosen to be trained for the group of bicycles distributed in his area.
It is too early to know if this program will continue and succeed, but it is very worthy of note.
I would like to personally commend Mr. Day for his ongoing commitment of time and energy, not only for helping those less fortunate with the most basic of transportation that we all take so for granted; but more so for spending the extra effort to engineer sustainability!