The non-profit 88bikes Foundation recently completed its fourth endowment to children in need around the world. Project4 donated 300 bikes to orphans and children rescued from human trafficking in Ghana, India, Nepal and Vietnam.
“The 88bikes Foundation has a very simple goal,” co-founder Dan Austin told BikeRadar. “To provide a sustainable, joyful, empowering form of transportation to young people in developing countries.
The program combines children with one-to-one sponsors. Each child is given a picture of her sponsor with a world map on the back showing where she lives and where her sponsor lives. Following each 88bikes endowment, volunteers visit to instruct the kids in bike safety and maintenance, organize bike repair apprenticeships and workshops and even work to set up organic farms and other projects.
Bike recipients receive a photo of their sponsor along with their bike.
“These children have been challenged to be their own heroes due to war, conflict, poverty, disease, or other regional hardships,” said Austin. “88bikes endows orphanages, centers, schools and ashrams around the world with bikes for all the kids.”
88bikes Foundation purchased 300 bikes from local vendors in each country. The bikes chosen include single speed, utilitarian and steel-frames common to the region. Each bike is proven to handle the arduous developing world terrain conditions.”
88Bikes Foundation completed three similar projects prior to Project4. The first donation went to an orphanage in Cambodia; next came a 200-bike endowment to a refugee camp in Northern Uganda. Last year, it endowed five orphanages in the Mantaro Valley of Peru.
“The desire for every child to be happy,” Austin said. “A bike is that rare vessel of freedom and fun, as useful as it is enjoyable. For children rescued from slavery or the heroic survivors of war and disease. A bike provides a bridge to an abbreviated childhood, giving her a sense of autonomy, health and happiness, not to mention a tool to get to school and perhaps develop a career.”
Big smiles here.
88Bikes Foundation is a partner of KEEN Hybrid.Care, a manufacturer of hybrid footwear. It was created in 2004 to support social and environmental organizations that have paved the way for change through community, education and understanding.
“KEEN gave 88bikes a generous grant to help with the expenses associated with providing bike repair and safety workshops to the children receiving bikes,” Austin said.
88bikes Foundation has a follow-up program to help teach children bike safety and repair. Volunteers have already revisited Peru and are scheduled to return to India and Nepal in April and May. More volunteers will visit Ghana and Vietnam later in the year.
“We have a lot of folks approach us about volunteer opportunities,” Austin said. “We connect them with our partner NGOs on the ground and orchestrate volunteer efforts of varying lengths and objectives.”