100 Bikes for 100 Girls

by Rock-Paper-Scissors Children's Fund
Vetted
Trinh and her newly repaired bike
Trinh and her newly repaired bike

Dear Friends,

In 2016 you helped us provide 411 girls in Vietnam with new bikes! This has brought a great deal of joy to so many girls and their families, we just can't thank you enough. We hope to continue to give even more bikes in 2017, and have already been able to give 40 bikes this month alone. Thank you for your support! 

As you probably know, the bicycle is the main method of transportation used to get to school---there are no school buses in the rural areas of Vietnam. This being said, we know that we will probably never be able to provide bikes to all of the girls in these communities as much as we would love to, but we have decided that we can certainly help to maintain some of their existing old bikes.

Last summer we received a small grant of $1000 from our local rotary club to pilot a small bike repair program for both boys and girls.  If you've ever gone to a school in rural Vietnam when it is in session, you'll see in the school yard hundreds of bicycles. After experiencing this so often, and seeing what terrible condition many of the bikes often are in, we decided to simply hire a local mechanic to go to the schools during the day and repair bikes! We started this in October and have tried it at three schools so far with great success. We have repaired over 80 bikes with new brakes, seats, tires and tubes. The kids love it. Below is a little story we would like to share with you about one of the kids who had her bike repaired.

This story is written and translated by our in-country staff.

Story from the Field~~~~

When we met Trinh on the second day of the Rock-Paper-Scissor's bike repair workshop at her school, she hadn’t brought her bike and had walked instead, but when she heard about the program, she asked to have her name registered in our list for the next bike repair day. After one week we returned to the school, and Trinh did not have her bike again, but rushed back home to get it for us to repair. With a smile she said she was not about to miss the chance that would never come again, to have her bike fixed for free! We repaired Trinh’s bike with a tune up, a new seat, a new front basket and a new cover for the back wheel.

Trinh, she is 10 years old and in the 5th grade. Her teachers say that she is an excellent student at school. Trinh is the middle child of three siblings and she lives with her family in a little fishing village near the elementary school in the province of Khanh Hoa. Her dad is a fisherman and her mom does odd jobs, both of them work so hard to raise the three children and try to keep them in school, education is not free in Vietnam, so it is very hard for her family.

On the day that we talked to Trinh, she was in a hurry rushing to her classroom, we just had enough time to stop her and ask where she was going! She said she had to go to the computer room to practice the online English test. She was preparing for the well-known English language contest for gifted students called IOE (International Olympic English) in Vietnam. We were so impressed and so excited about this because we know that the contest is very competitive. 

Trinh was so happy to have her very old bike repaired that day, and thanked us greatly.

~~~~

 Thank you again for your kind support! Please visit our website and learn about all of our programs in Vietnam.

New bike-Jan 2017
New bike-Jan 2017
Girls and their bikes-Jan 2017
Girls and their bikes-Jan 2017
New bike 2017
New bike 2017
New Bike and Helmet
New Bike and Helmet

Links:

Cleaning their bikes.
Cleaning their bikes.

Dear Friends of our Bikes for Girls Program,

I would like you to meet Jane and Stephen, two avid bicyclists and new Rock-Paper-Scissor's volunteers. In 2013-2014 the couple decided to make a change in their lives and left their corporate jobs to take a trip around the world on their bikes. Over 18 months they traveled through 22 countries, Vietnam being one of them. Of all the countries they traveled to, they became very fond of Vietnam and its people, especially the children who would ride behind them on their beat up old bikes when they rode through the villages. Unfortunately when they returned home after the trip, Stephen’s beloved bike was stolen in Los Angeles. As sad as it was for him to lose the bike that he had circled the world on, Stephen did something out of the ordinary, and turned the experience into something joyous. When Stephen’s friends and followers found out that his bike had been stolen, they offered to buy him a new bike, but this is how Stephen responded:

“If you have the money to help me, a fairly privileged Westerner, you have the money to help someone with a greater need, and I encourage you to do that. If my bike theft can help a group of young girls in Vietnam, then it makes the heartache worthwhile.”

With this he started a fundraiser and ended up raising enough money to buy 30 new bikes for girls. We were so grateful to Stephen, he had given away the new bike that he would have received from friends, selflessly to the girls that we support in Vietnam.

This summer we were lucky enough to have Jane and Stephen join us as volunteers in Vietnam. Stephen is now a certified yoga instructor and teaches in studios all over the world, and Jane is a freelance writer and runs their online consulting business called My Five Acres where she helps people lead adventurous lives.  During the summer they had been working in Southeast Asia, and could easily join our group.  Over the past year, they had contacted me about helping out with our Bikes for Girls program in any way that they could, so I introduced them to the idea of helping us develop our bike repair and maintenance program.  

This summer thanks to Jane and Stephen, who developed the program materials and trained our staff, we have started to incorporate a simple bike maintenance and care training program for the girls when they receive their new bikes. This includes things like how to clean your bike, how often, where to keep your bike to reduce rust, adjusting the seat and handlebars for a proper fit, and how to check air and pump up the tires.  Jane and Stephen personally piloted the new program, training 50 girls in July. We have since donated 60 bikes and our staff in Vietnam has trained all 60 girls.

We are so thankful to Jane and Stephen and grateful to be able to make this connection for them back in Vietnam.

Thank you all for being a part of this program—thanks to you we have given 352 bikes so far this year and provided 110 girls bike maintenance training!

Sara

PS-Please email me at sara@rockpaperscissorschildrensfund.org if you would like to learn more about volunteering, or helping us in any way. 

Jane and Stephen teaching bike maintenance
Jane and Stephen teaching bike maintenance
Bike maintenance lessons
Bike maintenance lessons
Bike maintenance training for the girls
Bike maintenance training for the girls
Jane and Stephen sharing their bike knowledge
Jane and Stephen sharing their bike knowledge
A new bike
A new bike

Links:

Being interviewed about her new bike
Being interviewed about her new bike

It’s the end of July and I’m writing to you from my hotel room in Hue City, Vietnam where the weather currently reads “105F, but feels like 133F”!! As the founder of Rock-Paper-Scissors I come to Vietnam once a year for a month to bring young musicians, artists and teachers from the U.S. to volunteer to help us run our ethnic minority camps, work with our staff here and teach our students attending our three small music and art schools. At the same time our volunteers also participate in giving bikes to girls at local schools.  Over the last three weeks we have given 40 bicycles, making the total number for this year so far, 240 girls receiving new bikes.

This summer a volunteer videographer from the U.S. has also traveled with us and he is documenting how we give bikes and how we use your donations.  He has been working hard to interview some of the girls at their homes with their parents. This young nine year old and her family in the photos were very patient with us, allowing him to film and interview them in and out of their house. She told us how excited she was to have the bike because now she could carry two of her siblings on the back of it to school. All together the family was very excited to receive such a beautiful gift and requested that we please thank the people in the United States who so kindly gave the money to buy the bike.

During the interview we learned that she was one of five children. Her mother and father are working very hard to keep the children in school, but her father  told us that sometimes there is only a little bit of work to even keep him busy. He hoped that he would be able to provide the schooling that the kids need, but felt that he could not make any promises and had to “see what the future brought to his family”.  

The following week during our second bike giving I met an 84 year old grandmother who personally wished to say hello and thank me for giving the bikes. She had been taking care of her granddaughter alone for a number of years. While she was telling me how excited she and her granddaughter were for being chosen to receive a bike, she became overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry. She told me that it would have been very hard for her to afford to buy a bike on her own for her granddaughter.

These are just two stories from the many girls and families that you have supported over the past few years. I wish that each of you, or donors, could meet and visit with these girls like I have to be able to see firsthand the difference you are making.  I thank each of you again for donating to these beautiful kids.

Sara

PS-Please email me at sara@rockpaperscissorschildrensfund.org if you would like to learn more about volunteering or helping us in any way. 

The family
The family
Filming the ride home
Filming the ride home
Grandmother and daughter receiving a bike
Grandmother and daughter receiving a bike
Heading home
Heading home
Teaching the girls about wearing helmets
Teaching the girls about wearing helmets

Links:

New bike-Happy girl
New bike-Happy girl

Dear Friends of our Bikes for Girls Program,

Thank you everyone for your continued support of our bikes for girls program. It’s only April and you’ve touched the lives of 160 girls already this year by giving them beautiful new bikes to ride to school! We continue to identify the lowest income girls in grades 4-12 with the help of our partners the local Vietnamese Red Cross. It’s a joy to share the new bikes with the girls and to see how proud and honored they are to be receiving such a beautiful gift. We continue to encourage them to go to school and to try and stay in school through high school. We have this discussion with the girls and their parents at the bike giving ceremonies.

We have also been learning a lot of new things and continue to work to improve our program. Recently we added giving a light-weight helmet to each girl along with their bikes. This has been an interesting experience to say the least…

In the fall we purchased 100 helmets to try out this new addition to our program. We certainly learned very quickly that you can’t assume that what we take for granted here in the states would be easy to implement in Vietnam.  What I mean by this is that we thought that we would give the helmets to the girls, show them how to adjust and wear them, and off they would go! Well, this was not the case at all. We handed out the helmets, helped them to adjust them, talked with them and their parents about how the helmets help to prevent head injury, additional safety issues, took photos with them wearing their new helmets, but as soon as they left the school grounds, off came the helmets, right into their baskets. None of them wanted to wear them!

Somehow children in Vietnam are exempt from the motorbike helmet law that went into place only three years ago there. This is on motorbikes, so absolutely nobody wears helmets while riding bicycles! We are so used to everyone here in the states wearing helmets that we ignorantly thought if we give them the helmets, that the girls would automatically wear them! Not true! So, this has been quite a learning experience for us---we’ve decided obviously to continue to give the helmets and continue our training about helmet safety, with the hope that somehow the girls will eventually learn, and want to wear them. We hope that the Rock-Paper-Scissors Children’s Fund helmets will become a new trend there!

We also continue to develop our bike repair program, which has helped us to improve our program as well. Our mechanics have discovered that the bikes that we purchase in Vietnam tend to have parts from many countries, and that this is variable depending on the lot of bikes and factory they come from. The problem with the variety in parts makes the bikes more difficult to repair and replace parts if needed. Because of this issue we are considering having a custom-made Rock-Paper-Scissors bike in order to assure that we can continue to repair them easily. 

Thank you again for helping us to run this program through your generous donations. We could not provide these wonderful gifts to the girls of Vietnam.

Sincerely,

Sara Stevens Nerone

Waiting for her bike
Waiting for her bike
Bikes waiting for their new owners
Bikes waiting for their new owners
New helmet
New helmet
Thang helping to adjust the helmets
Thang helping to adjust the helmets
New bike and helmet
New bike and helmet

Links:

Nhi in front of her house.
Nhi in front of her house.

This is Nhi, one of the many smart, talented, beautiful girls who you have helped support through our Bikes for Girls program. We met Nhi at one of our bike giving ceremonies at her school. She is 13 years old and from a very poor family. Nhi was so excited to be receiving her new bike because her family had only one very old bike that was being shared by them all. That one bike was the only form of transportation that her family had. She was so grateful to be receiving a new bike of her own.

Nhi has had a hard life like so many of the girls we support. Her father died when she was a year old from cancer, and her mother died not long after of a brain tumor. Since then she and her brother have been raised by their grandparents. Their grandparents are quite old, but continue to work in order to try and keep the two children in school. When Nhi comes home from school she tries to help them by doing chores and things around the house. In spite of her hard life, Nhi works very hard in school to try and get good grades.

When we gave Nhi the bike, she said, “I have dreamed to have a new bike, but I knew it wasn’t possible until I got this beautiful pink bike. I am so thankful.”

In 2015 we were able to give over 300 girls, like Nhi, new bikes. We are so grateful to all of you, our donors and supporters.

Thank you,

Sara Nerone

sara@rockpaperscissorschildrensfund.org

Bike Giving Ceremony
Bike Giving Ceremony
Being silly
Being silly
Lots of new bikes!
Lots of new bikes!
Waiting for their bikes
Waiting for their bikes

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Rock-Paper-Scissors Children's Fund

Location: Wakefield, RI - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.rockpaperscissorschildrensfund.org
Project Leader:
Sara Nerone
Wakefield, RI United States

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