Early in September volunteers gathered in Chatswood to help repair up to 450 bikes before they are sent to remote communities in Uganda.
This was part of a Bikes 4 Life initiative – a charity that recycles unwanted bikes for use by underprivileged groups.
Sydney Bikes 4 Life coordinator and Killara resident, Chris Roe says: “Remember the freedom you felt as a kid with a bike? Well these communities are the same. There’s nothing like seeing a 20 year old man smiling, riding a bike for the first time.”
Students, aid workers and police officers in Uganda use the bikes. They provide students with an easier way to travel to school, and entire communities with better access to food, water and medical aid.
According to Chris the focus of the charity is recycling. “It doesn’t cost anyone any money,” he says.
To ensure the longevity of the program the bikes are sent to Uganda in containers with spare parts and power tools. The containers then become workshops where older students are taught to become bike mechanics. Doing this ensures the bikes can be maintained.
It also provides the students with new skills, which Chris says could open doors to other opportunities, like car mechanics or even engineering.
St Ives resident, Sonya Acon, is also involved in the program. Her family had some old bikes hanging around in the garage. Instead of throwing them away, Sonya organised a bike collection for Bikes 4 Life at St Ives Park Primary School.
“We collected over 300 bikes all up,” says Sonya, who is now considering making it an annual effort.
Bikes 4 Life is currently looking for corporate sponsorship for a container to ship the bikes to Uganda.