2 minutes reading time (400 words)

Bikes a Kickstand for Health

Meet the members of the Antsohihy Mandroso (KOPAMA) bike co-op (e-Box). This group was established in 2014 when the idea of using bikes as incentives for volunteer health workers was imagined by USAID/Transaid. At the time, Transaid introduced a program aimed at delivering preventative health care to remote regions of Madagascar, basically all of Northern Madagascar. To assist health workers, they gave them bikes, but had no way of maintaining the bikes or keeping on volunteers who felt overwhelmed with the unpaid job.

Bikes for the World stepped in to help. In fact our first container of bikes delivered in 2015 was donated to this group in Antsohihy. Transaid adopted their e-Box operation based on a similar model in Namibia that has been very successful. The 'E' in e-Box stands for Enterprise. The members of the co-op, or e-Box, engaged in a curriculum for maintenance, repairs and management of bicycles established through Transaid. Today the e-Box remains in good standing and operates independently, proving the sustainability of the project.

The members of KOPAMA have changed over the years; the current roster includes 15 members, of which 13 are women. All members of the e-Box are also volunteer health workers. Everyone in the photo above lives in a different community and provides lifesaving care and information within their communities. They all live over two miles from the nearest health facility making their health services valuable to their communities. And bikes invaluable to them! Their only income comes from repairing and selling bikes.

The bulk of their work is done in the field as unpaid health workers. Here, they focus on basic care, delivering simple supplies and important information regarding good health, sanitary living conditions, and healthy hygiene practices. They are trained in helping to de-sensitize stigmas associated with vaccinations and family planning. They also administer care to children under the age of five and deliver short term family planning services. 

One member has been with the group from the start, Ms. Marthe Ravaoarisoa. At 76 she is the oldest member of the co-op, but by no means the least active. Marthe is always present in the cooperative meetings, assists with shipments of bikes from the time of delivery in all facets: inventory, repair and sales. She is a great leader and role model for other members of the community.

Bikes- Access to Education
Featured Volunteer: The Slades