One of the cleverest overseas aid programs I've ever run across is the Village Bicycle Project, based in my town of Moscow, ID. It collects used bikes and parts, and ships them to parts of Africa where transportation is often limited to walking. In addition, VBP provides tools and trains people in bike repair. From their website:
When the only other choice is walking, bicycles are a tool of development, improving access to farms, market, jobs, schools, and health care.
David Peckham is Director of VBP. He's a familiar face in Moscow, offering bike repair clinics, tune-ups and always happy to discuss Africa or bikes. (When my house was hit by that disastrous flood in 2005, Dave was the first man to dive into the three-foot deep mud and devise a plan for clean-up! What a great guy.)
The project started in Ghana in 1999, when Dave went there to study ways to make bicycles more accessible. He found several ways to make a real difference and the Village Bicycle Project was born.
Learning bicycle repair at a VBP workshop
In addition to collecting donated bikes and parts, VBP accepts cash donations to pay for shipping and bike repair training. The next fundraising event is coming soon: is a celebration in music and film featuring the northwest debut of Ayamye on Sunday, April 15th, 7PM at the Kenworthy in Moscow.
Ayamye is "a dramatic look at how lack of transportation can impact the education, health and livelihood of [a] community. Ayamye is a moving, life-affirming film that proves sustainable solutions to crisis are not always complex."
The event begins with the energetic Sesitshaya Marimba Band, and includes two other short films about Village Bicycle Project.
It's a worthy cause, well worth supporting! If you can't attend, please donate to the Village Bicycle Project. And of course, if you have a bike to share, get in touch with Dave.
Read stories of how the bicycles are helping in the lives of many Africans.
More information ghanabikes.org
Thanks to Dave Peckham for the photos, and for the wonderful work!