Do something wonderful, people may imitate it. Albert Schweitzer
The holidays are all about the shiny new bicycle under the tree on Christmas morning. I remember when I was a kid, I saw my first “big girl” bike as my road to freedom and independence. I could go to the park by myself, to the store and me and my friends could rule and roam the neighborhood at will. I was “IT”, and nobody could tell me differently. I was empowered by the freedom it provided me and how it expanded my world. Good Times!
But bicycles are more than a fun gift to open on Christmas morning or a means transportation to chase and harass boys in my neighborhood -they are simple, sustainable transportation- an empowerment tool that changes lives. People in underdeveloped regions of the world are suffering every day due to lack of access to health care, education and economic development opportunities. There is an organization that understands the power of independence and that the simple, sustainable nature of bicycles:
The mission of World Bicycle Relief is to provide access to independence and livelihood through The Power of Bicycles.
You are not sure how something as simple as a bike can change someone life? Keep reading my friend!
Some great stats (I do love my data) to show you the real magic of a bicycle:
- Bicycles increase carrying capacity, five times as much as compared to walking;
- Bicycles increase the distance a person can travel by four times compared to walking;
- Bicycles save time, approximately three hours for every ten miles traveled compared to walking
When is a bike more than a bike? When it provides health care, education and income to communities in need!
Health care: Brings health care to patients and patients to health care.
Education: Brings educators to the field and students to schools.
Economic development: Sustainable mobility is a fundamental requirement in all economic systems. Bicycles multiply an individual’s efforts by:
- Enabling workers to get to jobs or find better jobs;
- Fueling an individual’s entrepreneurial drive – entire businesses can be run off the back of a bike.
Project Tsunami –In the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, WBR worked with World Vision to provide 24,400 bicycles to people in Sri Lanka.For those who lost everything and faced the long, slow process of rebuilding their lives, viable transportation became as fundamentally necessary as food and shelter. The power of mobility helps families regain their livelihood quicker.
In support of the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative – WBR provided 300 bicycles to help specific HIV/AIDS initiatives in Africa in six countries (Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and Lesotho). They provided bicycles to health care workers addressing medical needs of people living with HIV/AIDS, mentors working with orphans and vulnerable children, and educators teaching disease prevention. In all cases, the efforts of the bicycle recipients will be multiplied by increased mobility and access to much needed services.
Bicycles for Educational Empowerment – In Fall 2008, they started an innovative program that will provide approximately 50,000 bicycles to increase access to school for children in rural Zambia who are especially at risk for extreme poverty. Safe, reliable transportation to school will enable them to have better health and economic outcomes as a result of completing their secondary education.
Each bicycle costs approximately $134 to place in the field. ONLY. $134.00. I believe that each of us have the power to change the world and be a source of hope and joy for each other. AND since I know my readers are some of the brightest, kindest, most giving folks in the entire Universe I would like to encourage you to help unleash the Power of Bicycles. With very little effort we can change the world one bike at a time. A few ways to do that include:
1. Giving up your fancy high end coffee habit for about 30 days. I had already given my coffee habit up to save for a Kindle. I have changed my mind and will instead use the savings to donate 2 bicycles.
2. Have a pot luck at home with your friends and take the money you would save on dinner and drinks to help provide transportation to health educators.
3. Bake a few extra batches of cookies and holiday yummies. Instead of gifting them –sell them to friends and family. Use that money to help kids change their lives through access to education.
From a poetry reading to a bake sale you can help spread The Power of Bicycles http://www.worldbicyclerelief.org/donate/. Paying it forward is easier than you think.