Saturday, November 5, 2011

COW: World Bicycle Relief

Today, Robin Politowicz is doing the Florida Ironman in Panama Beach. An Ironman is a pretty impressive undertaking on its own, but what's even better is that she's doing it to raise money and awareness for an awesome organization (and this week's COW): World Bicycle Relief. Robin's fundraising page is here.

World Bicycle Relief is providing aid to Africa by giving bicycles to students, health care workers, and other individuals who need to travel long distances with heavy loads.

I did some checking on this organization, and I was really impressed with what I found. The bicycles are specially constructed to withstand use over rough terrain. Individuals receiving bicycles get some training in basic bike maintenance and a small repair kit and pump. Even the most rugged bicycles need occasional maintenance, so World Bicycle Relief trains one local mechanic for every 90 bikes distributed. This creates an opportunity for a small business.  The bikes are distributed to local leaders, who give out bikes in the community based on need. Seventy percent of the bicycles are given to girls so that they can travel to school quickly and safely.

This program meets my two criteria for an excellent aid organization: the program is designed to be sustainable (well built bikes, local mechanics) and solicits input from local people (in distribution of the bikes).

In 2010, World Bicycle Relief ranked 12th on Barron's List of Effective Charities. This NY Times article explains the impact a bicycle can have on a person's life in Africa.  This article discusses the construction of the bikes and the importance of durability.

I love my bike: it's an alternative source of transportation and a leisure and fitness item. In Africa, a bike can mean getting to school on time, getting health care workers to hard to reach places, and getting goods to places where they could not be carried on foot.

If you are as impressed and inspired by this organization and I am, please consider supporting Robin with a donation. She is probably in the middle of a 112 mile bike ride right now!

So long for now, KISS (keep it simple stupid), and thanks to Robin for raising awareness of this great organization!

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