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Wheels in the Field: Helping Zambia’s Next Generation One Bike at a Time

By Frantiska Blazkova

While the majority of the first world takes education, public services and the access to those for granted, most third world countries can’t count themselves among the lucky ones. The happiness and prosperity of each respective country greatly relies on the possibilities of the next generation and education is a significant catalyst of future economic success of any population.

In Zambia, 4.7 million children are living in poverty according to UNICEF and about 375,000 kids aged between 7-14 are not enrolled into any kind of educational facility (source: Education Policy and Data Center). Access to a quality bicycle dramatically changes the lives of these children. A charity programme called Wold Bicycle Relief has set its long-standing vision to empower people through bikes and to break down that one barrier to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities – distance.

Rural students often have to walk for two or more hours just to reach their school, which makes them tired an unfocused in classes. For girl students, who are also required to perform plethora of domestic chores in the morning, a long walk proves even more challenging. Apart from often arriving late and exhausted, the students’ academic performance is plummeting, if they manage to stay in school at all. Bicycle can cut the time spent on the way by about 75 %.

World Bicycle Relief has delivered over 50,000 specially-designed, locally-assembled bicycles to students and workers in Zambia since 2009. These sturdy, high-quality bikes named Buffalo bicycles are often passed down to younger siblings, providing mobility for whole families. If we look at the actual numbers, provided by World Bicycle Relief, owning a bike increases student attendance up to 28 %, community healthcare volunteers make 45 % more patient visits, and dairy farmers increase number of deliveries by up to 25 %. Because the kids were no longer tired from strenuous walks with heavy backpacks, their academic performance increased by 58 %. We say those are some pretty impressive result, achieved by just putting a bicycle in someone’s life.

WBR’s last campaign for July 2017, Wheels in the Field, set its goal to fund 3,200 more Buffalo bicycles for making Zambian people’s lives little less tough on them and they managed to exceed that goal to 3,688 bikes, thanks to contributors from all over the world and also thanks to various generous individuals and sponsors who vowed to match all donations 1:1.

The July campaign might be successfully over but if you visit World Bicycle Relief’s page there are many more to pick from, so you can either contribute to another cause or even take their great advices on how to organize a cycling fundraiser so you can chip in a bit more. This is a clear example that anybody can make a difference.