Project seeks more bikes to give ‘chance of better life’ for school children in Gambia

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Rotary Ireland has expanded their commitment to collecting, refurbishing and delivering unwanted bikes to school children in Africa giving them the chance of a better life.
This major project is now into its sixth year and has to date provided around 3,000 young people in Africa with the ability to get to school. Newbridge Rotary Club said it is excited to be driving the project forward.

“Working with Kildare County Council, schools and other agencies as well as local companies Rotary is organising the collection of unwanted but perfectly serviceable bicycles, delivering them to Loughan House Open Centre in Blacklion Co Cavan for refurbishment and final shipment to schools in The Gambia. The project allows the local community recycle quality usable bicycles that are no longer required, and provides life enhancing mobility to school children in The Gambia,” said Seán Dunne, District 1160 International Service Chair, Rotary Ireland.

“Children in Africa, especially those in rural areas, often have a very long way to travel to get to school, perhaps even walking up to 20km in a day. Having a bike will allow a child to get a better education, meaning they can better provide for their families and lead a more fulfilled life.

“Partnering with Loughan House Open Centre, an open low security prison in County Cavan, Rotary Ireland are also helping to make a difference locally by playing an important role in the rehabilitation of people in prison who are proud to give something back to society.”

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Cian is one of the prisoners involved in the project.
“I love working on the School Bikes African project, we are a real team and work together like a close family, it gives us a purpose as five days a week we get to work from 8am to 4pm and we have even gained FETAC/ City and Guilds qualifications that will help us get a job when we leave Lough house. It’s nice knowing that the work we do here puts a big smile on the face of a kid in Africa and that we are doing something really good for someone else,” he said.

Supporting this initiative, Kildare County Council has provided a dedicated container at a drop off point in Silliot Hill recycling centre.
Newbridge Rotary club called the initiative a win-win for everyone.
“It is a win-win with the environment benefiting because unwanted bikes are being recycled with Kildare County Council promoting the initiative ‘Think before you throw it out – Fix it/Donate It/Upcycle/Recycle’.
Rotary stress that people who have been sent to prison get a meaningful job by helping the project.

They said by sending bikes to Africa, children can access schools and get a better education.
“Rotary believe that the long-term effects of this project will have a huge and positive impact on the children and their families, but we can’t do this without the public’s help. Please take a look in your garage and if you have an unused bike take it to Silliot Hill recycling centre, Kilcullen, where a designated container is located at the facility. Rotary Ireland are looking for decent sturdy bikes with a wheel span no smaller than 12. Ideally the tyres will be thick to deal with the terrain in Africa,” added Mr Dunne.

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