Distribute 200 Bicycles to Girls for Education

by World Bicycle Relief
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Distribute 200 Bicycles to Girls for Education
Distribute 200 Bicycles to Girls for Education
Distribute 200 Bicycles to Girls for Education
Distribute 200 Bicycles to Girls for Education
Distribute 200 Bicycles to Girls for Education
Distribute 200 Bicycles to Girls for Education
Distribute 200 Bicycles to Girls for Education
Distribute 200 Bicycles to Girls for Education
Distribute 200 Bicycles to Girls for Education
Barbara and Harriet
Barbara and Harriet

Moms often have the best advice. More often than not, their perspective is intuitive and full of truth. It’s no different for Zambian mothers at Kalonda Primary School.

Here, they share with us words of wisdom about how Buffalo Bicycles and the Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program are creating access to education and strengthening bonds for families in their community.

On why bicycles are important for girls and the future of their families

"Us parents say early marriage, it pains us. The children have lost out," says Harriet's mother, Barbara. "If they marry at a tender age, there is no one to support them. When Harriet finishes school, she can help the family with her education. She will be able to provide - materially and socially. It's the best inheritance for the child to be educated."

On strengthening mother-daughter relationships

“My interaction with my children, especially my daughter, has changed since the bicycle,” says Joyce, mother of Busiku, who is in Grade 7. “Before, it would be difficult. Now she goes and comes back in good time. Our relationship has improved. There is no resistance to go and help with errands.”

On how access to education creates economic progress 

"We were suffering! A person would take their whole day to reach home," says Judith. "In olden times, we had no knowledge of hand pumps. We drank water from shallow wells where we had bathed. We shared the same wells with animals. The change is education. 

I am happy with the bicycle. With time saved and my family remaining healthy, Changu (my daugter) comes home now and helps with chores. Plus, she is becoming more adventurous. She is growing vegetables and selling them. This is helping us parents," beams Judith. 

On why bicycles are making a difference

Kalonda Primary School Head Teacher Mrs. Naomi Hapaku confirms what all parents are excited about with bicycle transportation and the Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program: 

"Outside of school hours, we encourage them to assist one another. If it's not time for school, they use the bicycle for the family's benefit. They go to the clinic, they go to town to grind mealie meal, they give other rides to school."

 

 

 

Joyce and Busiku
Joyce and Busiku
Head Teacher Mrs. Naomi Hapaku
Head Teacher Mrs. Naomi Hapaku

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Mahanga student rides a Buffalo bicycle
Mahanga student rides a Buffalo bicycle

In July 2015, World Bicycle Relief and World Vision distributed 100 bicycles to students at Mahanga Secondary School in Kakamega County, Kenya. Nine months later, a Kenyan news team explored the positive impact of the bicycles on both the students and the wider community. 

School administrators at Mahanga Secondary School in Kakamega, Kenya, report that since receiving the Buffalo Bicycles, student performance has improved and self-esteem, particularly among the girls, has increased.

Students who used to walk 5-8 kilometers (approximately 3-5 miles) each way to school save hours per day in travel time by bicycling instead. The bicycles have also raised the profile of Mahanga Secondary School in the community. Enock, the head teacher, said that Buffalo Bicycles have even increased school enrollment.

Before receiving the bicycles, girls who walked to school would often encounter boda boda riders, or motorcycle taxi drivers, who would offer free rides in exchange for sexual relations.

“Nowadays, I pass them by, riding my bicycle without paying attention to them,” said one bicycle recipient. “I’m independent and confident!”

A full 70% of bicycles were distributed to girls, since they are at the highest risk of dropping out of school due to distance, time constraints and pregnancy. Girls in Kakamega County are expected to complete household chores before leaving for school, and the pressure of balancing those responsibilities with schoolwork and long commutes can become unmanageable.

The remaining 30% of bicycles were distributed to boys, and school officials are using the program to encourage good citizenship and strong community among their male students. As boys bicycle to school, they are expected to offer rides to any girls they see walking in the same direction, providing a safe alternative to the boda boda riders.

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The Power of Bicycles

As a 13-year-old, Priscah received a bicycle through World Bicycle Relief's Bicycle's for Education Empowerment Program (BEEP). Five years later, Priscah's parents and five younger siblings have also benefited from the life-changing power of Buffalo Bicycles. From accessing healthcare to transporting their family farm's produce, this family is now on the move.

Life-Changing Transportation

Priscah received a bicycle while she was in grade six at Chikanda Basic School in Mumbwa District, Central Zambia.  Before her bicycle, Priscah would wake at 5 a.m. to walk the 8km to school in time for class at 7 a.m. She could not attend to morning chores at home because of the distance ahead of her. Priscah often ran to school in an effort to be punctual but frequently arrived late anyway.

As punishment for late attendance, Priscah was tasked with completing chores while class was in session. Even when she made it to school on time, her exhaustion made learning difficult. “I used to be tired, doze off and lacked concentration in class,” she said. Priscah also suffered from anxiety about falling behind in her studies.

After receiving a bicycle, Priscah was able to get an extra hour of sleep each morning and take care of her morning chores. After school, she would use the bicycle to fetch water, wash dishes and get home in time to study in the daylight. Her younger brother, Prince, would get a ride to and from the same school on the bicycle’s carrier.

Pedaling Towards a New Tomorrow

When we first interviewed Priscah, she wanted to become a soldier. Years later, she now has dreams of becoming a doctor. After her graduation from primary school, her bicycle was passed down to her brother. It has since been passed on to the next oldest sibling, who ferries two younger siblings on the back of the strong bicycle. The students travel 18km round trip each school day.

Priscah’s parents own a small farm. With the help of the bicycle, they are able to carry more produce to sell at the market. When the local market price for their vegetables was too low, Priscah’s father pedaled to a market 20km away instead and earned a much fairer price. The extra income they earn enabled them to pay school fees, hire workers, and purchase a truck for the farm. Priscah’s father has even saved enough capital to build a store for his produce!

The parents were so inspired by the power of the bicycle to change their lives that they purchased a second Buffalo Bicycle for other siblings to use. All of their children are now at the top of their classes.

A single Buffalo Bicycle typically impacts 5 individuals. In the case of Priscah’s family, a total of 8 people used her bicycle to improve the family business, access healthcare and travel to and from school. With a second Buffalo Bicycle, this family now has even more flexibility and freedom when it comes to transportation. Distance is no longer a barrier to the children’s educational dreams and the family’s business prospects.

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Racing The Sun

Scholastica’s parents live in a small village far away from their daughter, trying to make ends meet. In order to attend school, Scholastica stays with her grandparents and uncle in Chepkongi, Kenya.

Every morning, Scholastica wakes at 4 a.m. to make the fire and cook breakfast for her young cousins and herself. She also bathes and dresses the little ones. After finishing her chores and dropping her cousins at school, she travels to Sambut Secondary School.

Before receiving a Buffalo Bicycle, Scholastica was constantly tired and her concentration in class low after waking early and walking 7 km to get to class.

Dropout levels are high at Sambut Secondary – and long distances to school are a major factor, according to the Ministry of Higher Education.

Upon returning home, Scholastica still has chores to complete before night falls. She finishes her day by doing the family’s laundry and squeezing in final studies for the next day’s learnings – when she’ll wake at 4 a.m. and do it all over again.

 

Life With A Buffalo Bicycle

In September 2015, Scholastica’s school received Buffalo Bicycles through the Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP) to help overcome the barrier of distance. She was among the first beneficiaries.

“The bicycles have boosted so much,” says Mr. Simiyu, the principal at Sambut. Students come to school over the weekend and study without teachers’ supervision. Absenteeism is down. And if they’re sick, students use the bicycle to seek a proper medical checkup.

With her Buffalo Bicycle, Scholastica now drops her cousins off at primary school and still arrives for her own classes on time.

Scholastica cycles to school Monday through Saturday. She now takes advantage of the extra Saturday study sessions with her classmates – something she never had the time or energy to do before.

“My favorite subject is Christian Religious Education,” Scholastica says. “I want to be a nun when I grow up as I want to help the poor in society.”

She also has time to return to school in the evenings for studying and extracurricular activities. “I am an athlete, so I get plenty of time to practice,” she says. “Unlike before.”

Not one to waste a moment of daylight, Scholastica continues her routine into the evening. “I cycle very fast to get home before dark, then go fetch water in the river,” she says.

 

A New Sense of Security

Scholastica’s Buffalo Bicycle also has given her a new sense of freedom and security. She now rides past bullies and idle boys in her village who discourage young girls from attending school.

“When I was walking, the boys would stop me and talk,” Scholastica says. “They offer a ride. When we arrive home, they say I don’t need to pay. They want something else. They are dropouts and say I should drop out too because it’s too long of a way to school anyway. We stop because we are polite. Then they follow us any way they can. If we don’t listen to them, they might even throw something or hit us.”

With a smile, she boldly says, “With the bicycle, it’s hard for boys to flag me down. Even before they do, I have already flown past them. Especially if we ride as a group of girls. The bicycle has boosted my confidence. I am not scared of boys anymore.”

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Gifty Returning from School
Gifty Returning from School

“I would have dropped out of school considering the long distance I walked, punishment from my teachers and humiliation I suffered in the hands of my friends any time I went to school late.”

These are the words of 12-year-old Gifty at Kandiga Primary school in the Kassena Nankana East AP in Ghana. Gifty lives in Kaasi, 4 km away from her school. She dreams of becoming a nurse one day.

“When I woke up in the morning, I did my household chores and walked far to fetch water to bathe before I went to school. I spent about 2 hours walking to school each morning and usually got there with dirty legs and very late, mostly after the first lesson was over,” she said.

Gifty was frequently punished at school for her tardiness. She also could not communicate effectively in English because she missed most of the lessons and therefore made mistakes when she spoke. “These made me to stay out of school some days to minimize the mockery on me in school,” she added.

According to Gifty’s teacher, her poor performance could be reversed if she just stayed closer to the school and participated in class activities. Her parents also were not happy with her poor performance in school. They blamed what they thought was Gifty’s “laziness”. They contemplated taking Gifty out of classes.

Then Gifty was selected to benefit from World Bicycle Relief’s Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP). She calls it the turning point in her life.

“It was as if some magic came to me when I heard you were interested in supporting girls in my school with bicycles to enable them to go to school in time. I went to school every day so that they could consider me.”

When the Bicycle Supervisory Committee began selecting BEEP beneficiaries, Gifty was second on the list.

“It was a great joy for me when I was given a brand new Buffalo Bicycle after a colorful distribution ceremony in my school. In this school, we were taught safe riding principles. I was also encouraged to join my juniors at the reading camp in Kaasi. I took an active part in the activities, and this took away my fear and put confidence in me to speak English among my peers,” Gifty said.

Gifty still does her assigned chores but manages to get to school early. “I ride home fast to do my homework and come back to attend the reading camp activities on the scheduled days. My stepmother is happy with me for doing my household chores early. I no longer go to school late and am not punished as a result. My colleagues no longer tease at me for my faulty English and so I don’t miss school again. My dream of becoming a nurse in the future is very much alive!”

“I am forever grateful for lifting me from near dropout back to school.”

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Organization Information

World Bicycle Relief

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @PowerOfBicycles
World Bicycle Relief
Teresa Walter
Project Leader:
Teresa Walter
Chicago, IL United States

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