ATE teams up with the Village Bicycle Project to bring bikes to school children and apprentices in Lawra.
The Village Bicycle Project (VBP) is an NGO that couples quality subsidised bicycles with hands-on maintenance training for new owners. In 2018 alone they have distributed over 116,000 bikes across Ghana and Sierra Leone. In particular, they focus on women and girls, who are frequently marginalised, are specifically targeted for inclusion in programs which begin to address the gender inequalities that limit their access to bicycles.
In rural communities people travel long distances on foot to get to work/school and many women and children will have additional labour intensive responsibilities outside of these commitments, for example, caring for younger children, fetching water from the borehole, working on the farm. We know from our students that many travel long distances on foot to attend school and that some of the apprentices supported through our VocATE programme travel as much as 8km on foot to reach their apprenticeship.
When we heard about VBP last year, we were excited and applied for 80 bicycles. Project Assistant, Ernest Tangpuori, carefully identified the students and apprentices who would most benefit and took into consideration their daily travel distances and additional responsibilities. We were delighted when they told us they would be bringing the 80 we have requested and 20 children’s bicycles on top! When we received this news we had already starting our school feeding programme, EducATE, at Biro JHS; a small school in an incredibly rural area. Ernest was able to add all Biro students as well as l students from Gombele Primary School school to receive a bicycle as well.
The workshops were held by VBP representatives and with the help of Mr Malik, an ATE supported bicycle repairman in Lawra, and were a huge success! Participants learned how to take care of their new bikes, to fix punctures, pump their tyres and to ride their bikes with confidence. These bicycles are simple but will be revolutionary in the lives of these students and young apprentices. The sheer joy on their faces is a pleasure to see. Students and apprentices alike were thrilled and all took the workshops seriously. Millicent, a seamstress told Ernest, “With my bicycle I will be the first to report at work!”
After the week of workshops and distributing the bicycles, Ernest said “It was an exciting project which caught the attention of all the community members including the chief. It’s a project that will go a long way to benefit these students and apprentices that walk several kilometres to school/work and back. I was pleased with the outcome and looking at the excitement on the faces of the beneficiaries. The VBP team leader said he was impressed with the whole process and gave a very excellent report about ATE. He also urged us to reapply because there are a lot of people we still need to reach.”
What an amazing few days, and thank you so much to VBP for making this possible. We can’t wait to apply again!