Getting the most out of Rotary International! Earlier this year our partner Rotary Club of Carroll Creek (RCCC) toppled all records by surpassing the 5,000 bikes donated mark at their annual spring collection. This effort has helped us deliver bikes for over 15 years to 78 recipient partners around the world (38 based in the US). RCCC has also connected Bikes for the World to many other local groups including Frederick County bike shops, schools, recycling centers, and police departments to find those abandoned, unwanted bicycles. We even added a new partner, Montgomery/Rocky Hill Rotary Club, when the guy who got this partnership started, Zoltan Nagy relocated to New Jersey.
So when RCCC came to us earlier this year and said, how can we do even more internationally- we thought REALLY!?! But after working with them for a decade and a half we knew they were serious. So we jumped on finding an international connection. Executive Director Taylor Jones was talking with the founder of Bicycles for Humanity, Pat Montani, who just happens to be a fellow Rotarian. Pat was working on a project with the Rotary Club of Empangeni in South Africa and made the introductions. And the links just sort of fell into place like the chain of a bicycle.
The Rotary Club of Empangeni has been working with Bicycles for Humanity for a few years to import bikes and distribute them in the communities around Empangeni and Ladysmith in the KwaZulu-Natal province. The impetus for this was the lack of reliable transportation, especially for young school children to attend class. The donated used bicycles were repaired by Rotarians in South Africa and donated at no cost to kids and their families.
As word got out about the bikes, people started traveling great distances to bring bikes to their rural communities. One in particular left an impression on the Rotarians, Colin Mathebula. Colin traveled twice from the rural community of Zwelisha to Empangeni, a 750 mile round trip, to secure bikes for his Zwel Kids Club. They were so impressed with his dedication and the organization that they schemed to deliver an entire container directly to Zwel Kids Club. And that's where Bikes for the World comes in.
Fast forward to November 2019 as we prepared to ship our first container to our newest partner, the Rotary Club of Empangeni, and indirectly Zwel Kids Club. We called up RCCC and they sent the Bike Club leaders (past and present) to assist in loading the container we arranged to be donated to South Africa. And in true Rotarian style we finished in record time and got them back on the road to Frederick before the afternoon rush.