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Transforming Scrap into Skill

Making an old bike work is all about how you frame it. And at CESTA they really now how to re-frame it. If you look closely at the bike above (and know anything about bikes) you'll quickly see that this is a handmade 'hybrid'. The front looks more like a child's BMX style bike, while the back appears to be an adult mountain bike. Extensive racks were added to both the front and rear to make hauling products way more efficient, and in that quantity possible

On a recent trip to El Salvador our sister organization in Chicago, Working Bikes spotted several of these 'hybrid' workhorses on the streets of San Salvador. Many were equipped with huge carts attached to the front of the bikes in place of the front wheel, which made hauling huge loads of...literally ANYTHING possible. From sodas for a bike a party, bricks for a building, or a rolling market on wheels these old bike frames were really being put to work.

CESTA is making these bike possible and available in El Salvador. And in the process they are promoting their mission of protecting the environment while also providing essential skills training to their workshop trainees. Coming through a CESTA workshop may begin with how to change a flat tire, but stick with it long enough and an intern might soon be using a welding torch to create not only valuable transportation but also usable works of art. 

At Bikes for the World we try to limit the amount of unusable items sent in our containers to avoid sending trash or recycling that is harder for our partners to deal with than it is for us here at home. We have a team of volunteers who strip off the usable parts from marginal bike frames so that we can recycle anything broken or too rusted. We donate the valuable parts that will be able to help mechanics fix the bikes we send and recycle the rest locally. But not everything we send is rideable, yet CESTA proves it is still valuable.

CESTA found a use for those discarded metal parts, they are after all, an environmental group. And they aren't just welding pieces together to practice, they create functional art that they sell at CESTA. This crazy looking bike is made out of forks and training wheels, but it's not a bike at all, it's about to become a plant stand. Even more importantly CESTA is taking these bits of scrap bicycle parts and transforming them into a critical employable skill. 

Check out the gallery below to see some of the welded creations coming out of the CESTA workshop. (photos courtesy Working Bikes and CESTA)

Featured Volunteer: Lil(l)y
Featured Volunteer: Michael Miehl